Mine’s big expansion

2012-10-27 00:00

THE nearly 800-hectare coal mining expansion outside Mtubatuba will, once completed, have seen nearly R500 million invested into the area in just two years.

South African-based holding company Petmin has been aggressively stepping up production of export-quality anthracite.

Tendele Mining (Pty) Ltd — which is currently operating the existing mine known as Somkhele — wants to expand its operation in 2013 when it commissions two new mine sites known as KwaQubuka and Luhlanga.

With a combined size of 706 hectares, there is possibly six million saleable tons of metallurgical anthracite buried underneath.

Petmin spokesperson Jonathon Rees said the company is investing the R488 million as it positions itself in the location for the next 20 years.

“Somkhele’s total life of mine is approximately 20 years. Depending on how the Luhlanga and KwaQubuka mining areas are utilised, operations in these areas are likely to run for between five and 15 years,” said Rees.

In July 2012, the Department of Mineral Resources granted a 20-year mining licence for expansion of operations to KwaQubuka and Luhlanga.

The draft scoping report for environmental authorisation on the two new sites was officially released for public comment late in October.

In the report it stated 25% of the population surrounding the mine are unemployed while 65,2% are “economically non-active”. It went further to state that the new “recruits” for the expansion would be employed from Luhlanga and KwaQubuka.

The company recently commissioned a second wash plant — a facility which processes the raw material removed from the mining pits and sorts it into different grades — at a cost of R162 million, upping the operation’s capacity from 530 000 to 1,2 million tons of saleable metallurgical anthracite a year.

“A third wash plant is under construction, at an estimated total cost of R62 million, with commissioning expected in early 2013. The third plant will increase the productivity by 500 000 tons of energy product each year.”

In addition to the cost of the processing plants, an investment of approximately R174 million has been made in 2012 to open up the mining pits, with a further investment of R90 million expected in 2013, added Rees.

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