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At a time when funding for fossil fuel projects is drying up, Botswana is racing to develop six new coal mines and a rail link for exports, with the government prepared to put its own money into the projects.
The southern African nation, the world’s second-biggest diamond producer, has more than 200 billion tons of untapped coal reserves. To kickstart the industry, it has turned to investors from the largest global coal consumer, China.
Key to developing the projects is the construction of a rail link to South Africa of as long as 125 kilometers (78 miles) at a cost of $150 million to $250 million, according to a slide presented to the Chinese investors. The line, capable of transporting as much as 25 million tons a year, would channel coal to the South African rail system that runs to its ports.
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