Energy company Shumba Energy (SE) has made significant progress on its Mabesekwa Export Independent Power Plant (MEIPP) project, which will be ready for bid submission by mid-2016. The project is located in the Mabesekwa village, in Botswana’s Central District.
Shumba started with the bankable feasibility study for the MEIPP and, with a cash balance of $2.85-million, is confident that it will meet its objectives in 2016 as it moves its project towards financial close.
Further, the MEIPP’s environmental-impact assessment is going through the final stages of approval. SE intends to submit its application for a water use licence, finalise the grid connection’s preliminary design, submit an application for a waste management licence, finalise the engi- neering procurement and construction contractor selection, and continue with the Botswana and South African independent power producer (IPP) bid preparation.
Coal and water supply, power transmission, environmental and engineering solutions have been concluded, along with the attainment of surface rights for both the MEIPP and the associated opencast mine.
SE’s independent coal power project will be able to supply electricity to the South African Coal Baseload IPP Procurement Programme for cross-border projects. It has also been shortlisted for the Botswana Greenfield Coal Baseload IPP Programme, as a parallel bid submission. The project will be a mine‐mouth power plant.
Various options were considered to integrate the project into Botswana’s national grid and to export the electricity to South Africa. The required shallow and deep transmission and interconnection works have been finalised. Plans for improving the associated infrastructure include the upgrading of current access roads and the establishment of on‐site accommodation, site offices and telecommunications infrastructure.
The project site lease area, comprising 2 800 ha, is located some 60 km south‐west of Francistown and 40 km west of Shashe, in close proximity to the mine mouth of the Mabesekwa coalfield.
The power plant is to be built between 5 km and 6 km from the coal mine mouth, with a conveyor belt to transport coal.
The project calls for at least two generating units, each with an output of at least 150 MW and a combined maximum capacity of 600 MW, depending on grid integration and evacuation constraints.
It is expected that circulating-fluidised-bed boilers will be used. Owing to Botswana being a water-scarce country, the project will employ a dry cooling system. Additional infrastructure such as interconnection facilities, a transmission line, water supply infrastructure, a coal handling system, crushers, ash handling systems, emission abatement systems and a distri- buted control system will be completed during the course of the year.
Coal supply for the MEIPP Project will be provided through a long‐term coal supply agreement. The development of the coal mine is under way and expected to be funded as a separate project finance transaction. The coal resource is estimated at over 840-million tons, at an average depth of between 50 m and 60 m, with an average thickness of 18 m.
The coal mining prefeasibility study (PFS) – conducted by mining engineers and consultants Ukwazi Mining Solutions – defined the mine configuration, as well as the technical and economic potential of the MEIPP. It was completed in August 2015 and demonstrated that the Mabesekwa mine will be best suited to a low-cost conventional openpit operation.
SE then entered into a joint development agreement with energy projects development company Mulilo Thermal toward the latter part of August 2015. Mulilo is an IPP in South Africa and has developed a portfolio of over 400 MW of grid-connected power plants.
High-voltage specialist Trans‐Africa Projects conducted a grid integration and transmission study to investigate the most desired point of interconnection to transfer energy from the MEIPP into the Botswana Power Corporation’s (BPC’s) network. The study, concluded successfully late October 2015, indicated a simple integration into the BPC network and a clear transmission route to direct power to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia.
The study included input from BPC and recommended that the MEIPP be integrated into the BPC network by means of a loop‐in‐loop‐out connection to the yet-to‐be-constructed Phokoje–Dukwi 400 kV line, as well as a third line – which must also be constructed – that will run from the MEIPP power plant to Francistown.
Thereafter – in November 2015 – Botswanan geological consultancy Wellfield Consulting Services completed a surface water hydrology study for the MEIPP and mine, with input and consultation from Botswana’s Water Utilities Corporation.
The study recommended that, if SE were to use the Shashe dam as a primary water source for the MEIPP, the required demand would best be provided by the reallocation of an existing but unused water allocation at the dam. Shumba was awarded this allocation late last year.