Tlou Energy, a Botswana Stock Exchange listed junior exploration company developing Botswana’s first coal bed methane (CBM) natural gas project has signaled limited funds as an impediment to desired progress in archiving its commercial gas flow targets.
The company shared this update through its business update for the last quarter of 2019, released this week. During 2019, Tlou commenced production testing at two Pods in the Lesedi project, namely Lesedi 3 and Lesedi 4. The aim of the production testing was to establish a commercial gas flow rate from one or both of these pods.
Tlou announced at end of second quarter 2019 that initial gas flow rates of approximately 20 Mscfd (thousand standard cubic feet per day) from each of Lesedi 3 and Lesedi 4 were archived. The Company‘s targets are a minimum sustained gas flow rate in the region of 80-100 Mscfd from each production pod.
In this latest operation reports the energy outfit which is also listed on the Australia Securities Exchange and London‘s Alternative Investment Market( AIM) revealed that gas flow rates have continued to fluctuate both up and down with periodic short-term rates observed which have been much higher than those initially announced.
“We will not be in a position to announce an increased rate until such time that higher levels are sustained and confirmed by our advisors, we are operating in a region where commercial CBM had not been produced before so there is no comparable data from this operating environment regarding how long it may take, or if it is even possible, for a commercial gas flow to be achieved,” shared Tlou Directors.
However the company says based on information to date, the Company has no reason to believe that the targeted commercial gas flow rates will not be achieved noting that they are generally pleased with well performance to date. Tlou Energy Managing Director Anthony Gilby says as junior exploration and Development Company, Tlou’s funds are limited and therefore caution is being taken by the Company to try and ensure that the production wells are managed without risking damage to, or loss of, either production pod. “This impacts the length of time taken to produce a commercial gas flow,” he said.
CBM gas production testing involves the extraction of water and gas from a coal seam. Typically, the water rate starts high and as this reduces, the gas rate increases. The reports states that since the Lesedi 3 and 4 pods have been in production, water rates have reduced with the aim of taking as much water as possible out of the underground coal seam reservoir. “Once this is achieved, the coal is expected to be more gas saturated and therefore the gas flow rate should increase significantly.”
Anthony Gilby reiterated that to achieve increased gas saturation is not a simple process as it requires careful management of pressure levels within the wells noting that each of the Lesedi 3 and 4 production pods consist of three wells – one vertical production well and two intersecting lateral wells.
“The Lesedi 3 and 4 pods are producing water in isolation which makes dewatering a slower and more difficult exercise than would otherwise be the case in a full field development. In a field development scenario, an array of wells would be located adjacent to each other which would serve to facilitate dewatering,” he said.
To further finance the project and ensure smooth exploration works towards achieving target commercial gas rates Tlou Energy has turned to wholly government owned investment arm Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) for funding. “We are in continuous negotiations with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) to fund development of this watershed project, the first 10MW of the Lesedi CBM Gas-to-Power project in Botswana and we have received an indicative non-binding term sheet as the negotiations have progressed,” revealed Tlou MD.
Gilby stated that the initial proposal forms the basis for further discussion and negotiation prior to finalization and thus remains confidential. “Further details will be provided if and when a binding term sheet is agreed,” he said. BDC is owned by the Government of Botswana with a mandate to provide financial assistance to commercially viable projects. Tlou says it is also in discussions with other parties interested in funding the Company though debt, equity and mezzanine finance.
SUPPLYING POWER TO GOVERNMENT
Tlou Energy‘s end goal is to deliver Gas-to-Power solutions in Botswana and southern Africa to alleviate some of the chronic power shortage in the region. In 2019 the company submitted a tender to Ministry of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security (MMGE) for the Development of a CBM-fueled power plant in Botswana and was subsequently selected as a preferred bidder.
If successful, ongoing negotiations will result in the Company agreeing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Government of Botswana, whereby Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), the national electricity utility would purchase the power produced by Tlou at the Lesedi CBM project. According to the report Government has taken additional time to assess their proposal including appointing qualified persons to assess the project. This was done to insure proper due diligence as CBM gas-to-power projects are new in Botswana,
To prevent further delays and allow Tlou to secure finance, Tlou has requested an interim PPA so that development of the Lesedi CBM gas-to-power project can commence sooner rather than later. Tlou Executives explained that the initial PPA could then be superseded by the final PPA once the MMGE has completed its assessment and negotiation.
In addition to the planned CBM development, Tlou also has environmental approval for 20MW of solar power generation. The company says Solar and CBM electricity generation can work extremely well together, with CBM providing base load power when solar is not available.
The future of Botswana’s largest copper and silver operation, Khoemacau Copper Mining, looks promising as the new owners, MMG Group, commit to the mine’s expansion plans. MMG, an Australian headquartered company owned by China, has expressed its dedication to doubling Khoemacau’s production and transforming it into one of the most significant high-grade copper operations in Africa.
Nan Wang, the Executive General Manager for Australia and Africa at MMG, stated that while the immediate focus is on maintaining a consistent production level of 60ktpa, there are solid plans to increase Khoemacau’s production capacity. The company aims to double its production from 3.65Mtpa to 8.15Mtpa, resulting in an increase in payable copper from approximately 60ktpa to around 130ktpa.
To achieve this expansion, Khoemacau has completed a pre-feasibility study on the project and a solar power initiative. The next step is to conduct a feasibility study, which will pave the way for increased production capacity. Additionally, Khoemacau has identified extensive exploration opportunities across its license area, positioning the company for an exciting new phase of development.
The current Khoemacau operation reached full production and nameplate capacity in December 2022, following over a decade of investment totaling over P10 billion. This significant investment allowed for an intense exploration program, resulting in the development of the most automated underground mining operation in Botswana. The first concentrate was produced in June 2021, and the product entered the export market in July of the same year. Throughout 2022, the company has been working on the pre-feasibility study for the expansion project, with the feasibility study scheduled for the following year.
The expansion plans will involve the construction of a new world-class process plant in Zone 5, where the current mining of ore takes place. This new plant will be larger than the existing one in Boseto, which currently receives ore from Zone 5. The expansion will also involve the development of new underground mines, including Mango, Zone 5 North, and Zeta North East. These additional mines will bring the total number of underground shafts at Khoemacau to six. The ramp-up of production from the expansion is expected to occur in 2026.
Khoemacau, which acquired assets in the Kalahari Copper Belt after the liquidation of Discovery Metals in 2015, currently employs over 1500 people, with the majority being Batswana. The Khoemacau Mine is located in north-west Botswana, in the emerging Kalahari Copperbelt. It boasts the 10th largest African Copper Mineral Resource by total contained copper metal and is one of the largest copper sedimentary systems in the world outside of the Central African Copperbelt.
The mine utilizes underground long hole stoping as its mining method and conventional sulphide flotation for processing. Resource drilling results have shown the existing resources to have continuity at depth, and there are several exploration targets within the tenement package that have the potential to extend the mine’s life or increase productivity.
The Zone 5 mine has already ramped up production, and further expansion in the next five years will be supported by the deposits in the Zone 5 Group. The estimated mine life is a minimum of 20 years, with the potential to extend beyond 30 years by tapping into other deposits within the tenement package.
In conclusion, the commitment of MMG Group to Khoemacau’s expansion plans signifies a bright future for Botswana’s largest copper and silver operation. With the completion of pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, as well as significant investments, Khoemacau is poised to become one of Africa’s most important high-grade copper operations. The expansion project will not only increase production capacity but also create new job opportunities and contribute to the economic growth of Botswana.
Khoemacau Copper Mining, a leading copper mining company, has recently announced its acquisition by MMG Limited, a global resources company based in Australia. This acquisition marks a significant milestone for both companies and demonstrates their commitment to continued investment, growth, and sustainability in the mining industry.
MMG Limited is a renowned mining company that operates copper and other base metals projects across four continents. With its headquarters in Melbourne, Australia, MMG has a strong track record in mining and exploration. The company currently operates several successful mines, including the Dugald River zinc mine and the Rosebery polymetallic mine in Australia, the Kinsevere copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Las Bambas Mine in Peru. MMG’s extensive experience and expertise in mining operations make it an ideal partner for Khoemacau.
MMG’s commitment to sustainability aligns perfectly with Khoemacau’s values and priorities. Khoemacau has always placed a strong emphasis on safety, health, community, and the environment. MMG shares this commitment and applies the principles of good corporate governance as set out in the Corporate Governance Code of the Hong Kong Listing Rules. As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), MMG adheres to sustainable mining principles, ensuring responsible and ethical practices in all its operations.
Over the past 12 years, Khoemacau’s current shareholders have made significant investments in the development of the company. With approximately US$1 billion deployed in the project, Khoemacau has successfully transformed from an exploration and discovery phase to a fully-fledged operating copper mine. The completion of the ramp-up of the Zone 5/Boseto operations has set the stage for the next phase of expansion.
With the acquisition by MMG, Khoemacau is poised for an exciting new chapter in its development. The completion of a pre-feasibility study on the Khoemacau expansion and a solar power project has paved the way for increased production capacity. The feasibility study will be the next step in doubling the production capacity from 3.65 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 8.15 Mtpa, resulting in a significant increase in payable copper from approximately 60,000 tonnes per annum (ktpa) to 130,000 ktpa. Additionally, Khoemacau has extensive exploration opportunities across its license area, further enhancing its growth potential.
The CEO of Khoemacau, Johan Ferreira, expressed his gratitude to the current owners for their stewardship of the company and their successful transformation of Khoemacau into a fully operational copper mine. He also highlighted the company’s focus on the expansion study and its vision for the future with MMG. Ferreira emphasized that the partnership with MMG will ensure Khoemacau’s long-term success, delivering employment, community benefits, and economic development in Botswana.
MMG Chairman, Jiqing Xu, echoed Ferreira’s sentiments, stating that the acquisition of Khoemacau aligns with MMG’s growth strategy and vision. Xu emphasized MMG’s commitment to creating opportunities for all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, and communities. He expressed confidence in Khoemacau’s expansion potential and the company’s ability to realize its full potential with the support of MMG.
The sale of Khoemacau to MMG is subject to certain conditions precedent and approvals, with the expected closing date in the first half of 2024. This acquisition represents a significant step forward for both companies and reinforces their commitment to sustainable mining practices, responsible resource development, and long-term growth in the mining industry.
In conclusion, the acquisition of Khoemacau Copper Mining by MMG Limited signifies a new era of investment, growth, and sustainability in the mining industry. With MMG’s extensive experience and commitment to responsible mining practices, Khoemacau is well-positioned for future success. The partnership between the two companies will not only drive economic development but also ensure the safety and well-being of employees, benefit local communities, and contribute to the overall growth of Botswana’s mining sector.
The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has taken a significant step towards diversifying its energy mix by signing a power purchase agreement with Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village. This agreement marks a major milestone for the energy sector in Botswana as the country transitions from a coal-fired power generation system to a new energy mix comprising coal, gas, solar, and wind.
The CEO of BPC, David Kgoboko, explained that the Power Purchase Agreement is for a 6MW coal bed methane proof of concept project to be developed around Mmashoro village. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy in the energy mix. The use of coal bed methane for power generation is an exciting development as it provides a hybrid solution with non-dispatchable sources of generation like solar PV. Without flexible base-load generation, the deployment of non-dispatchable solar PV generation would be limited.
Kgoboko emphasized that BPC is committed to enabling the development of a gas supply industry in Botswana. Sekaname Energy, along with other players in the coal bed methane exploration business, is a key and strategic partner for BPC. The successful development of a gas supply industry will enable the realization of a secure and sustainable energy mix for the country.
The Minister of Minerals & Energy, Lefoko Moagi, expressed his support for the initiative by the private sector to develop a gas industry in Botswana. The country has abundant coal reserves, and the government fully supports the commercial extraction of coal bed methane gas for power generation. The government guarantees that BPC will purchase the generated electricity at reasonable tariffs, providing cash flow to the developers and enabling them to raise equity and debt funding for gas extraction development.
Moagi highlighted the benefits of developing a gas supply industry, including diversified primary energy sources, economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. He commended Sekaname Energy for undertaking a pilot project to prove the commercial viability of extracting coal bed methane for power generation. If successful, this initiative would unlock the potential of a gas production industry in Botswana.
Sekaname Energy CEO, Peter Mmusi, emphasized the multiple uses of natural gas and its potential to uplift Botswana’s economy. In addition to power generation, natural gas can be used for gas-to-liquids, compressed natural gas, and fertilizer production. Mmusi revealed that Sekaname has already invested $57 million in exploration and infrastructure throughout its resource area. The company plans to spend another $10-15 million for the initial 6MW project and aims to invest over $500 million in the future for a 90MW power plant. Sekaname’s goal is to assist BPC in becoming a net exporter of power within the region and to contribute to Botswana’s transition to cleaner energy production.
In conclusion, the power purchase agreement between BPC and Sekaname Energy for the production of power from coal bed methane in Mmashoro village is a significant step towards diversifying Botswana’s energy mix. This project aligns with BPC’s strategic initiatives to increase the proportion of low-carbon power generation sources and renewable energy. The government’s support for the development of a gas supply industry and the commercial extraction of coal bed methane will bring numerous benefits to the country, including economic diversification, import substitution, and employment creation. With the potential to become a net exporter of power and a cleaner energy producer, Botswana is poised to make significant strides in its energy sector.