Botswana has commissioned a new coal mine at state-owned Morupule Coal Mine (MCM) to boost its exports amid surging demand for the commodity since the start of Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine earlier this year, reported Reuters.

The new 1.4 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) mine has been launched by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

MCM was the country’s only operating mine until 2019 when coal mining and trading company Minergy commissioned a new 1.2Mtpa coal mine.

According to estimates, the country holds 212 billion tonnes of coal resources.

In the wake of the global energy crisis, several European and Asian countries are scrambling for alternative fuel sources to Russian energy.

Botswana is looking to become a key coal producer. The country already increased sea-borne exports this year, through Walvis Bay and Maputo.

MCM currently produces 2.8Mtpa of coal a year from its underground operations. The production is fed to two nearby state-owned power stations and is also exported to South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The new open cast mine is expected to raise MCM’s production capacity by 50% to 4.2Mtpa.

MCM aims to increase its coal production capacity to 7.6Mtpa by 2027. This, in turn, is expected to help grow revenue to BWP3bn ($222.6m) from the anticipated BWP1bn in 2023.

Masisi was quoted by the news agency as saying: “Botswana must seize this opportune time which has presented itself to us, to fully exploit this resource to feed the emerging and diverse markets.”

The open cast mine is expected to have an operational life of more than 30 years.