Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) has restarted mining and processing operations at its operation in KwaZulu-Natal.
The mine has been on care and maintenance since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of the state of national disaster to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in March 2020.
Covid-19 national and international lockdowns severely impacted on demand volumes and prices for anthracite in 2020, resulting in the "difficult but necessary" decision to place the mine on care and maintenance.
However, ZAC and parent company Menar hope for a strong rebound this year.
ZAC comprises three shafts with a fourth shaft planned to open in 2022. At full capacity, the mine is capable of producing one-million tonnes of anthracite a year.
It has two processing plants on site where the product is washed to top qualities of 0.9% to 1.4% sulphur with extremely low ash content ranging from 8.5% to 18%. The product is sold to domestic and export markets.
Menar COO Bradley Hammond, who is overseeing the resumption of operations, said on January 27 that the mine was ramping up operations to meet customer supply requirements this year.
“It has been a very challenging year for all industries; however, we are seeing a steady rebound in market conditions and ZAC is well placed to support existing and new customers in their anthracite product supply needs on a long-term basis,” he said.
Hammond also noted that the company had plans to become a bigger player in the anthracite market worldwide in the coming years through new expansion projects.
Further, the restart of operations is very important for the local communities ZAC supports.
In addition to providing jobs and contracting opportunities for community-based entrepreneurs, ZAC invests heavily in community upliftment projects. It also runs education programmes, agricultural programmes, operator training initiatives, youth skills training programmes and provides bursaries, learnerships and internships to young people.