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Editorial Insight
Optimum, Eskom go to arbitration on coal supply, IDC, Palamin, IMBS mull Phalaborwa iron project, South Africa awards Shell shale gas exploration permit
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25th June 2010
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Black-owned JSE-listed coal-mining company Optimum Coal is to go to arbitration over the differing interpretations of a coal supply agreement that it has with Eskom. Read on page 14 of this edition of Mining Weekly that Optimum is contracted to supply 5,5-million tons of coal to Eskom’s Hendrina power station a year. Retired judge John Myburgh is expected to start arbitration in Johannesburg on August 10, for probable conclusion on August 15 or 16. With Eskom’s consent, BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa ceded the coal supply agreement to Optimum as part of a black economic-empowerment exercise.

An iron-making joint venture has been struck between Palabora Mining Company (Palamin), the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC) and technology development company Iron Mineral Beneficiation Services (IMBS). Read on page 26 of this edition of Mining Weekly of IDC, Palamin and IMBS entering into an agreement for IMBS technology to be used to beneficiate Palamin’s long-standing 240-million-ton magnetite stockpile for conversion into a scrap-metal alternative in electric-arc-furnace steelmaking.

South Africa’s exploration regulator, Petroleum Agency SA, has issued shale gas permits to Shell International and oil and gas com-pany Falcon, with Sasol and Anglo American still in the queue. Shale, which hosts the shale gas, was considered too difficult to drill until a recent horizontal-drilling and hydraulic- fracturing breakthrough led to the so-called ‘shale gale’ that is sweeping the gas world. Read on page 10 of this edition of Mining Weekly of the agency also being close to issuing a permit to BHP Billiton for exploration off South Africa’s West Coast.

Petroleum Agency SA has some 30 issued exploration rights for coal-bed methane gas. Shale gas, like coal-bed methane, is one of a number of ‘unconventional’ sources of natural gas and the breakthrough has more than doubled North America’s discovered gas resources to 85- trillion cubic feet.

Edited by: Martin Creamer


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