Gas, coal ex­plo­rations be­gin

Lesotho Times - - Business - Staff Re­porter

LE­SOTHO is poised for ma­jor min­ing de­vel­op­ments with the po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute mil­lions of mal­oti to the fis­cus af­ter the gov­ern­ment signed agree­ments with two min­ing com­pa­nies to prospect for coal and shale gas.

Thaba Naleli En­ergy and Mase­manzi Min­ing this week re­ceived mem­o­ran­dums of agree­ment (MOAS) from the Min­ing Min­istry to prospect for shale gas and coal re­spec­tively.

The shale gas which will be in the south­ern part of the coun­try is a source of en­ergy whose by-prod­ucts in­clude fuel and lubri­cants.

Speak­ing at the han­dover event in Maseru yes­ter­day, the Com­mis­sioner of Min­ing, Tšeliso Ntabe de­scribed the ex­plo­ration phase as a “mile­stone for Le­sotho,” as the min­ing op­er­a­tions that were likely to fol­low would sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the econ­omy.

Mr Ntabe also said his min­istry would en­sure the ex­plo­ration would not im­pact neg­a­tively on the en­vi­ron­ment.

For his part, Thaba Naleli Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Brian Jones said his com­pany had been au­tho­rised to prospect in the re­gion be­low the 29 de­grees line of lat­i­tude.

He said the first phase in­volved ge­o­log­i­cal re­search, where the rel­e­vant data would be com­piled into stan­dard for­mats from which in­ter­pre­ta­tions could be made con­cern­ing the ge­o­log­i­cal struc­ture of the re­gion.

He said the re­search would as­sist in the tar­get­ing of pre­ferred sites for the di­a­mond drilling of the deep, straight-down ver­ti­cal bore­holes which would pro­vide the ge­o­log­i­cal data which would be sam­pled and an­a­lysed for gas pa­ram­e­ters in the United States of Amer­ica.

He said the sec­ond phase would be the quan­tifi­ca­tion of the gas re­source and this in­volved hor­i­zon­tal drilling and frack­ing.

He said they ex­pected to find gas re­sources rang­ing from three and 10 tril­lions of Cu­bic Fill (TCF), adding if this were to ma­te­ri­alise, then the coun­try would be ca­pa­ble of build­ing “a sig­nif­i­cant in­dus­trial and fi­nan­cial in­fra­struc­ture with that amount to thrust it­self as an eco­nomic force in its own right within the south­ern African sphere of in­flu­ence”.

Dr Jones said the ex­er­cise would cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, adding per­son­nel would be re­cruited by the min­istry dur­ing the re­search phase.

Mase­manzi rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Ja­cob Khum­bane said his com­pany would prospect for coal in Mo­hale’s Hoek at Qha­lasi and Mate­bang, with a view to de­ter­min­ing whether there were sig­nif­i­cant de­posits for vi­able com­mer­cial ex­ploita­tion.

He said they would ap­ply for min­ing rights if they made sig­nif­i­cant finds and con­versely, they would re­ha­bil­i­tate the area if they failed to make any sig­nif­i­cant finds.

Mean­while, the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Min­ing, Makho­jane Monyane yes­ter­day said the min­istry was still to de­cide on who of Let­laka Min­ing Group, MCC and SHM So­lu­tions, Thaba Min­er­als ex­plo­ration, would be awarded the lease to the gov­ern­ment-owned Lem­phane Di­a­mond Mine.

Ms Monyane said the three were short­listed from nine com­pa­nies that had ap­plied, adding they were now in­volved in ne­go­ti­a­tions with one com­pany which would be an­nounced once the process was suc­cess­fully con­cluded.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, Ms Monyane re­vealed that eight com­pa­nies were locked in a con­test over the min­ing of Poli­hali Al­lu­vials.

Th­ese are Poone Di­a­monds, Mohloli Min­er­als and NRR, Brixs De­vel­op­ments JV Eco­solve, Ledi Tae­mane, Tha­galu Min­eral Re­sources and Data Met­rics, Qetello Group Of Com­pa­nies, Le­mec as well as Perezial.

Min­ing Min­is­ter Le­bo­hang Thotanyana.

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