While other miners and hopefuls find themselves forced into delays and cutbacks because of funding woes and low commodity prices, Toronto-based CIC Energy is pressing ahead with plans to build a coal mine and power station at its Mmamabula project, in Botswana. The firm has now completed a mine plan for the 4.5Million tons a year coal mine and announced the selection of Chinese mechanical and electrical equipment manufacturer Shanghai Electric as the preferred engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the initial power plant.
The company aimed to have submitted a mining licence application to the government of Botswana by end of 2008, and should begin the procurement process for the development of the mine and the associated infrastructure in 2009.
A turnkey EPC contract will be awarded for the manufacturing and erection of the wash plant and discussions are “well advanced” with the preferred contractor, the company reported. The coal crushing system and associated coal conveyor system will also be tendered for a turnkey EPC contract, and the procurement process for the equipment required for steady state mining will get under way in early 2009.
T h e M m a m a b u I a coalfield contains an estimated 2.93billion tons of coal in the measured and indicated categories, plus 34-million tons of inferred resources.
Despite a debilitating shortage of electricity supply in the Southern African region, the company had to abandon plans earlier in 2008 to award contracts for a 2,400-MW project, after its off takers, South Africa’s Eskom and the Botswana Power Corporation, were unable to agree on assuming risk for the project in order to meet lender requirements.
However, the firm now expects to sign 30-year off take agreements with both utilities by mid-2009, by which time it should also have a funding agreement in place.
The capital cost to build the mine and power station has been estimated at $3billion, and the company is in talks with development finance institutions, South African commercial banks and a Chinese export credit agency, which is being targeted for a “large segment” of the project funding.
CIC is not concerned by the impact of the financial crisis on the company’s ability to raise funds, because the lenders that it was targeting had not been affected as much as commercial banks.
In the meantime, the firm will fund early infrastructure work on the project from its $89-million treasury.
It has already begun a formal tender process for early work like site clearing, earthworks, roads, water-supply and wastewater treatment facilities, and plans td use local contractors in Botswana as much as possible.