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Weekly Features
Waterberg coal project
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6th May 2011
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Name and Location
Waterberg coal project, Limpopo, South Africa.

Project Description
The Waterberg coal project comprises eight farms in the Waterberg coalfield totalling some 7 979 ha.

The proposed project entails the construction of an opencast coal mine on the Smitspan farm. The definitive feasibility study (DFS) has shown that the Smitspan farm contains sufficient coal to produce around 120-million tons of coal for power stations, with some of the higher-grade coal suitable for the metallurgical and the thermal export markets.

The DFS, updating the prefeasibility study released earlier by the company, shows that a standalone 1,5-million-ton-a-year mine will be economically viable within the first five years of operation.

The proposed Smitspan first-stage opencast mine has dimensions of 4,1 km west to east, and 2,2 km north to west, and a depth of only 75 m to the base of coal seam No 7, with a low waste:coal strip ratio and top coal within 28 m of the surface.

The DFS estimates the cost of the first stage of the project at R1,22-billion.

Subject to the conclusion of offtake agreements, mining at the project’s Smitspan colliery site is targeted to start by mid-2011.

Latest Developments

March 2011 Firestone Energy has the right, in terms of joint venture (JV) agreements with Sekoko Coal, to earn up to a 60% share of any project established to exploit the under- lying coal.

Firestone Energy has awarded major infrastructure, treatment plant and rail contracts for the development and construction of its coal mine on the Smitspan property.

The miner has appointed Virtual Consult-ing Engineers as its infrastructure contrac- tor, Ingwenya Mineral Tech as its coal processing contractor and RCE Consultants to look after the additional rail capacity needed for the project.

Firestone is also expected to appoint a mining contractor for the coal project.

Meanwhile, a new mine design report has affirmed that 100-million tons of metal- lurgical coal could be accessed on three Waterberg farms.

The report, submitted by mining engineering and mine design services provider Sound Mining Solutions, states the coal could be accessed through a large opencast mine, which would be followed by an underground mine.

Firestone has said that, while more exploration is required within the area, preliminary work is highly encouraging.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter


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