17 March 2008 – Minister of minerals, energy and water resources for Botswana, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, is scheduled to open the Morupule coal washing plant in Palapye this week. The plant will improve the quality of coal by treating over 30 000 tonnes of coal a month by washing the coal, reducing the ash and sulphur content, thereby increasing its energy content.
"Many countries these days have strict regulations regarding emissions of offensive gases like sulphur-dioxide into the atmosphere. This coal washing plant can be seen as our response to the challenges of ensuring that we have cleaner air and of giving our customers value for money because you get more calories from washed coal," says Moruntshi Kemorwale, Morupule’s communication officer.
Built by South Africa’s DRA plant design and control engineers, the plant will reduce the amount of ash from 20% to just over 12 %, while the sulphur content will be reduce from 1.6 % to .5 %.
Morupule supplies coal to Zimbabwe, the DRC and Zambia and has a coal reserve of 15 billion tonnes – an amount expected to last some 15 000 years at current mining rates. Debswana, Morupule’s parent company, believes that washing the coal will more than double current sales of graded coal.
Botswana is considering plans to become self sufficient in terms of power generation, and the Botswana Power Corporation’s generation expansion feasibility study of 2003, sets out a plan for comprise of 6 100MW generators. 400MW will be installed by 2010, an additional 100MW in 2018 and the last 100MW by 2023.