South Africa will continue to depend on coal for at least another 60 years as a baseload energy resource, and although its use will wane over time, it will remain an integral part of the Integrated Resource Plan, Seriti Resources CEO Mike Teke assures Mining Weekly.
This dependence, with the low production costs and ample reserves of coal, will also continue, despite the integration of renewables and other forms of power generation into the national energy mix.
Similarly, exports will remain a strong element of the industry, in addition to the domestic supply of coal to State-owned power utility Eskom.
As such, Teke stresses that “the need to change is imperative for the long-term sustainability of the environment but this change should be done through a just and managed transition by all stakeholders”.
He points out that the coal industry has provided a significant foundation for the industrial development of the country and remains a large employer in the mining industry.
Therefore, it is crucial that all industry stakeholders manage the transition to a low-carbon economy, while balancing the country’s energy needs and the impact on vulnerable communities.
New opportunities and jobs must be created to replace those that will be lost by the “new world” of renewables and a cleaner energy environment. Further, clean coal technologies, which are being investigated, should also play a role in the transition.
“We are not climate-change denialists, and we understand the impact that coal has had on the environment and the role that fossil fuels have played in global warming,” he avers.
Consequently, Seriti is pursuing options to diversify its portfolio and leverage new technologies and renewable energy at its operations.
The company is conscious of the impact of its operations on the environment and has developed plans for pollution prevention and energy efficiency management across its operations.
Health and safety remain a key focus area for the industry, and Seriti is committed to pursuing the elimination of fatalities and safety incidents by implementing and maintaining rigorous safety standards.
“We will continue to safeguard lives and save jobs.”
He adds that the Covid-19 pandemic will remain a risk for the industry and the company will continue to support its employees and communities by ensuring profitable operations, and managing the risks associated with the pandemic through detailed operational, employee and community-related plans.
Cooperation and alignment with parastatals that work with the mining industry, specifically in the provision of logistics and electricity, are needed to ensure the optimal funcTioning of Seriti’s operations and its profitability, Teke comments.
Teke, a speaker at this year’s Joburg Indaba, says it is one of only a few events where leaders of the industry, and parties closely associated with the industry, can meet, share ideas and even initiate projects or transactions that drive value.
He suggests that face-to-face interactions are almost always more effective, but notes that the country has, over the past 18 months, learned how to make the most of virtual engagements.
Teke stresses that the prosperity of its employees, communities and good environmental management is central to its functioning.
A critical focus for the company is achieving zero harm. “We are committed to continue investing to ensure the health and safety of all our employees, as well as value creation for our stakeholders.”
Together with municipalities, Seriti strives to improve the lives of host communities. Seriti spent R14-million on corporate social responsibility projects – including portable skills training, poverty eradication, education, health, water and sanitation, and supplier development – in its host communities in 2020.