Refusal by Botswana to pledge at the COP26 Climate Conference opens doors for coal mining companies

Despite calls to abandon coal, work on Botswana’s second privately-owned coal mine is set to begin in the first quarter of next year, according to the CEO of Maatla Resources.

The southern African country signed a global commitment to reduce the use of highly polluting coal at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow but opted out of a pledge to stop issuing new coal mining licenses.

Botswana is moving forward with the development of its coal resources, which are estimated to be worth 200 billion tonnes, as it seeks to diversify its economy away from diamonds.

Maatla was awarded a licence in February and had hoped to start building the 1.2 million tonnes per annum mine this year, but was stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic and regulatory delays.

Now, Maatla is looking to proceed after a funding deal with Frankfurt-listed HMS Bergbau (HMUG.DE), which is a $45 million debt and equity deal concluded in April that took a 51% stake in it.

“The target is to reach financial close by February next year and then immediately start building the mine. The first production is expected within 12 to 15 months,” Maatla CEO Jacques Badenhorst said in an interview late on Thursday.

Badenhorst said the target market for the mine included cement manufacturers and boiler operators in South Africa, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia.