Expansion project on track

An aearial image of Menar's Zululand Anthracite Colliery

ZULULAND ANTHRACITE COLLIERY The colliery's superior quality places it as a favoured supplier

16th December 2022

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer


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Investment company Menar’s Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) expansion project is in the shaft development phase and first coal is expected by April 2023.

The project will increase production at the colliery, in Emakhalathini, about
100 km from Richards Bay, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Thus far, there have not been any major challenges and development is progressing well, says Menar projects head Gerhard Cronje.

He explains that the colliery is being mined from the Ngwabe, the Deep E and the Outcrop shafts in five different sections.

The Ngwabe shaft began operations in 2011 and has a remaining life span of about three years. It produces 20 000 t a month. The Outcrop shaft began operations in 2007 and has a remaining life span of about six years. It produces 11 000 t a month.

The Deep E shaft began producing coal in April.

However, the primary challenge with the colliery is that the geology is very difficult.

“It might be the most difficult underground coal mine in South Africa. We have several issues, be it gas or dykes, so production has . . . lots of challenges,” he elaborates.

Consequently, Menar needed to find ways of increasing production and decided to establish the new Mngeni shaft. This will ensure a life-of-mine (LoM) extension and, as a result, increase job and social and labour plan (SLP) benefits. Jobs that may have been made redundant had there not been a new resource discovered will be preserved, along with new SLP and community development initiatives, such as a recent upgrade to a local Shembe Church, and are a direct result of the development of the new shaft.

The Mngeni shaft is about 7 km from the current ZAC processing plant, near the Masokaneni community.

The project has an anticipated LoM of six years, with a resource of 1.2-million tons. Drill-and-blast mining methods will be used to produce the anticipated 180 000 t and 240 000 t a year of anthracite.

The self-funded project will cost R130-million, and about 40% of the mined product from this shaft will be exported.

About 60% of the colliery’s total product is sold in South Africa, providing a more cost- effective option for manufacturers, compared with the higher-cost Russian anthracite or coke imported from China.

“With its variety of industrial applications, anthracite is key to many of South Africa’s downstream industries,” adds Cronje.

He elaborates on the importance of anthracite in South Africa, citing a local electrode paste manufacturer that employs a significant number of people. When the manufacturer could not secure anthracite supply, owing to a number of logistical and market challenges, it had to temporarily suspend operations.

Cronje explains that the superior quality attributed to every product from ZAC places it in a “unique and favoured” position as a supplier of reductants to the metallurgical industry.

The colliery’s consistent quality and secure production make it a sought-after supplier to key markets, while its location positions it well for exports, and service to the local markets.

Currently, the colliery is the sole producer of prime anthracite in South Africa and produces the highest-ranking, lowest-ash and lowest-volatile anthracite, he adds.

According to Menar, the colliery is a “one-stop shop” for anthracite and has all the facilities to size and blend products according to market requirements.

Through the colliery, it aims to become a larger player in the international and domestic anthracite market, offering exceptional service, consistency and quality, says Cronje.

In addition to the ZAC, the company’s investments in the local coal sector include coal exploration and mining company Canyon Coal and coal mining and processing operation Kangra.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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