9 February 2010 – The Department of Geological Survey (DGS) in Botswana has recorded as much as a 50 percent rise in the number of applications for the exploration of energy minerals such as coal and coal bed methane during the year 2009. This is clearly an indication of the growing demand for power both on a local and on a regional level.
DGS officials have now revealed that the main focus of exploration companies applying for prospecting licenses in Botswana last year was uranium, coal and coalbed methane (CBM), all energy minerals. Of the total 1198 active licenses in issue for 2009, 771 were for coal, coalbed methane, metals, radioactive and industrial minerals and only 421 were for diamonds.
Analysts believe the strong growth in energy minerals is a result of the Southern African power supply and demand imbalance. While the increase in issued licenses could potentially mean further exploration and job creation, the DGS has found that it is not often assured that a license will translate into tangible working projects on the ground.
Last year figures revealed by the Department showed that while there were 118 licenses in issue for coal and CBM, less than 30 percent of these could be classified as active. The DGS aims to ensure that all license holders are actively creating both jobs and revenue. Prospecting license holders include a majority of South African companies followed by Australia, Britain, Botswana, the USA, and Canada. If energy minerals continue to attract high levels of interest in 2010, Southern Africa could well be on a path towards resolution of its regional power deficit.