South African coal exploration and miningcompany Canyon Coal says five new opencast and two new undergroundprojects are at an advanced planning stage as part of the company’s vision to achieve a coal output of 10-million tons a year and so become a midtier coal miner by 2019.
“We are also very excited about the new challenges associated with underground mining. Construction at our two underground projects in Bethal and Hendrina, in Mpumalanga, will start towards the end of this year,” says Canyon Coal exploration and mine development manager Clifford Hallatt.
The De Wittekrans project, in Hendrina, which has a reserve of 118-million tons, will produce about 400 000 t/m, while the Witfontein project, in Bethal, is expected to produce 100 000 t/m and has a reserve of 70-million tons.
He says the company expects first production from its new opencast mine, Khanye colliery, in Bronkhorstspruit, in Gauteng, later this month, and that it has a reserve of 39-million tons. “We are aiming to reach steady state in July by producing 200 000 t/m.”
Hallatt says manufacturing and civil work are under way for the 400 t/h processing plant for the Khanye colliery and are set for completion in September. “The following project to be commissioned is Ukufisa colliery, in Springs, Gauteng, where coal reserves amount to 180-million tons. The company plans to produce 400 000 t/m of coal over a 38-year life-of-mine.”
In support of the new mining projects, Canyon Coal is also developing four new railway sidings – two in Mpumalanga and two in Gauteng – to improve distribution of coalproducts to various domestic and export markets.
The company is a member of Bettercoal, an international organisation that promotes the ethical sourcing of coal, thereby enjoying the benefits of the association by supplying lucrative coal markets that value the sustainable manner in which the company conducts its mining operations, Hallatt notes.
“This certainly augurs well for coal mining in South Africa, and Africa also stands to benefit from the commodity boom that is slowly building up.”0
To reduce carbon emissions at its plants, Canyon Coal has developed and implemented a pollution prevention plan that will run from 2017 to 2020, in accordance with the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act of 2004 and the associated National Pollution Prevention Plan Regulations of 2017 that guide the reduction of carbon emissions on all operational sites.
Hallatt says all the company’s operational sites also have a site-specific biodiversity management plan, guiding in the preservation of local animal and plant species.
He says the company is audited by an independent consultancy firm on a yearly basis on the implementation of the environmental management plans.
“South Africa is well endowed with coal. If mined responsibly, with due care to our environment, we can meet our energyneeds through coal for many years to come,” Hallatt says, emphasising that, while it is still profitable to mine, all stakeholders, including investors, should receive their returns in a sustainable manner.
Local Economic Development
Hallatt indicates that a developing country like South Africaneeds coal as an accessible and affordable source of energy to boost local economic development.
He says Canyon Coal contributes to local economic development in two ways. “Firstly, we mine in an environmentally sustainable way while rehabilitating the environment.”
Secondly, the company supports local communities by providing employment opportunities where its miningoperations are based, and is involved in community development initiatives.
Hallatt believes that there are good prospects in domestic and international markets for coal, indicating that the resurgence of commodity prices internationally and the promise of policy certainty at a domestic level will contribute positively to the sector.