To boost production, the South African coal mining industry needs to open up new mines in the Waterberg coal basin to replace the depleted mines in the Highveld, Witbank and Ermello coalfields in Mpumalanga.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), A Strategic Analysis of South Africa's Coal Mining Industry, finds that South Africa's coal production will struggle to meet demand over the next few years. However, despite the environmental and logistical constraints that the South African coal mining industry is facing, coal production is likely to be on the upward trend by 2011 if new mines are opened in the Waterberg coalfield.
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"South Africa's coal mining industry remains unbalanced, with rising coal demand on one hand and constrained supply sources on the other," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Wonder Nyanjowa. "With the global demand for coal rising by an annual average of 4 per cent, the country's available supply capacity may not be able to cope with the upsurge in demand."
The expansion of Eskom's electricity generation capacity, together with Sasol's capacity expansion, is set to increase South Africa's coal consumption by 75 million tonnes per annum. However, coal supply will remain stagnant.
"Limited rail and port facilities at Richards Bay Coal Terminal are expected to slow the growth of South Africa's coal exports," cautions Nyanjowa. "Growth prospects will further be hampered by tightening environmental laws in many parts of the developed world."
Increased calls by the United States and other developed countries for a moratorium on the continued use of coal-fired power stations will also dampen export demand for South Africa's coal in international markets.
"The South African coal mining industry needs to position itself well in order to meet the increased demand for coal in domestic and international markets," remarks Nyanjowa. "The Waterberg coal basin which currently has one operating colliery represents the future of electricity generation and coal mining in South Africa."
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A Strategic Analysis of South Africa's Coal Mining Industry / M3DE