JSE-listed Miranda Mineral Holdings, which announced on Thursday that it was focusing on four new coal projects in northern KwaZulu-Natal in addition to its already-announced Sesikhona, received a special message of encouragement from ANC president Jacob Zuma, who said he would like to see the "neglected" area developed.
Zuma's son, Duduzani Zuma, read the goodwill message to a contingent of 30 fund managers, analysts and major investors, in which he expressed the hope that the proposed new mining activity would benefit the people of the area.
The bus transporting the visiting investor-community contingent from the Newcastle airport to the presentation venue was honoured by a special police escort, emphasising the importance the local authority is attaching to this investment.
The Miranda share price rose to R2,25 a share on Thursday, and to R2,60 on Friday, from a level of R1,20 a week ago.
The mining right applications for the four new projects are not as advanced as the application for the 22-million-tons Sesikhona anthracite project, from which the first coal is expected before the end of this year. First coal from the four new projects is expected only in the third quarter of 2009.
The four new projects, still in exploration phase, collectively contain 120-million tons of coal, much of which is metallurgical coal.
"With the current spot price of metallurgical coal in the region of $300/t, we have high hopes for our projects," Miranda FD Wayne Ison told Mining Weekly Online.
Uithoek, Burnside and Wasbank, which are contiguous, will initially be mined by opencast method, later going underground, and the fourth Boschhoek-Boschkloof project will be solely an underground mining operation.
Should Miranda's other identified potential anthracite, coking coal and energy coal projects be implemented, total coal for extraction in the area would rise beyond the 200-million ton mark.
Sesikhona, situated near Dannhauser, consists of four contiguous farms, covering 884 ha.
The four new also-adjoining projects, all in the Glencoe area, cover 16 000 ha.
Coal in KwaZulu-Natal generally comes in two seams, which are often narrow, varying in thickness from 0,9 m to 1,5 m in places.
"But the quality of the coal more than makes up for its narrowness," Ison told Mining Weekly Online.
Empowered company Ihlosi Mining is Sesikhona's joint-venture partner.
The Kliprand community will earn a royalty of R50 for each ton of Sesikhona coal mined over the 20-year life-of-mine.