Lesotho’s Ministry of Mining believes the country has enough shale gas and coal to catapult its economy. It has awarded Memorandums of Agreement to a company that believes two thirds of the country can produce the alternative energy resource and another to find coal.
Lesotho geologists believe two thirds of the southern African mountain kingdom’s belly can produce shale gas. They also say there is enough coal to diversify the mining industry. This would reduce reliance on diamond mining and exports.
“In the last ten years the production of shale gas in the US has grown 12 times which is twelve fold and as a result it is a very good source of energy and when we talk about energy we talk about the manufacture of fuels lubricants and even cosmetics,” said Lesotho’s Commissioner of Mines Tseliso Ntabe.
The mountain kingdom has convinced investors to explore to determine just how much shale gas and coal there is.
“You may ask how much gas do we expect to find, well this is the million Maloti question, based on South Africa we guestimate we could get between R3 and 10 trillion tcf – this a significant amount of gas, even if we find 3 tcf Lesotho will be able to build infrastructure to thrust itself as an economic force in the southern hemisphere,” said Thaba Naleli Mining Shale Gas Prospector Dr Brian Hamilton.
Coal Mining Prospector at Masemazi Minining Jackson Mthembu also made his predictions.
“The budget between the first two phases ranges from a R1 million to 5 million as the initial drilling budget and should the two phases indicate a feasible mining area then it goes into the next phase of pre-feasibility study where we do geo-modelling of the specific area and that ranges from R5 to 10 million.”
Findings of the explorations will remain Lesotho’s intellectual property for policy development and further attraction of investment. Over the next three to five years both these operations hope to take economic activity to areas hardest hit by the recent drought and transform them and the country.