Morupule Coal Mine (MCM), initially known as Morupule Colliery, was established in 1973 as a subsidiary of Anglo American Corporation. MCM has grown from a 30 thousand tonnes per annum via conventional drilling and blasting operation, to a single section 1mtpa continuous miner operation in 2005. MCM ownership was transferred to Debswana Diamond Company in 2000 when Anglo disinvested its operations in Botswana. In 2016, the De Beers interest in MCM(held under Debswana) was acquired by the Minerals Development Company Botswana (MDCB), giving MDCB 100% ownership of MCM. Morupule Coal Mine is located 14 km northwest of the urbanized village of Palapye (the fastest growing center outside the capital city of Gaborone), along the Serowe-Palapye national highway (A14).
MCM Background Information MCM operates a 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) bord and pillar underground mine in the MCM1 resource block, within a 4 billion tonne classified semi-bituminous thermal coal resource in a fairly favourable geological setting. The resource is largely unexploited, some towards the west of the 425km2 mine lease, present in-situ calorific value (cv) as high as 25MJ/kg (adb). Current activities exploit reserves of in situ cv of 22-23MJ/kg (adb), supplying mine mouth power plants and other customers, with some of the ROM coal being upgraded in a DMS (WEMCO drum 16x75mm particle size) plant to various washed products that average cv of 25.5MJ/kg (adb), suplhur and content below 0.8% and 15% respectively. The mine operates its own railway siding that links into the national rail line that evacuates products to the north and the south of the country.
MCM coal has “self-scrubbing” characteristics and unlike many coals, does not have proclivity to produce acid mine drainage. This is due to the unique proportion of the buffering inorganic minerals in the coal to the acidic minerals. MCM is undergoing a second expansion of its operations since the MCM1 Expansion Project undertaken between 2008 and 2011. MCM1 expansion increased ROM coal production capacity to 2.8mtpa. The latest expansion is branded Project Motheo, exploiting the resources within the MCM3 resource block. Construction of Project Motheo will deliver a 3mtpa truck and shovel open cast mine, producing ROM coal at 2mtpa and up to 1.2mtpa low ash and low sulphur washed products into the regional market (cv of 25.0 – 26.0 MJ/kg air dried) by end of March 2021. The washed product from the open cast operation (0x50mm particle size) is anticipated to be of a better quality than current DMS due to DMS cyclone and the particle size being processed. Strategically, the open cast mine can be scaled up, to produce up to 6mtpa saleable coal at these qualities, coupled with development of rail link into the Waterberg region of RSA and other markets that are currently being studied.