JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The selection of Thabametsi as a preferred independent coal-fired power project has delighted black-owned mining company Exxaro, which will chip in a R3-billion first phase coal mine to supply 3.9-million tons of coal a year for 30 years to its power plant partners.
Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson earlier this week announced Thabametsi as a preferred bidder in South Africa’s Coal Baseload Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. JSE-listed Exxaro is partnering Marubeni and Kepco in this project falling under the Department of Energy's long-awaited private baseload coal electricity programme.
The power station, which is to be built in Limpopo close to Exxaro’s large existing Grootegeluk coal mine in the Waterberg, will generate 557.3 MW of electricity into the national grid, with the first coal due to be produced in in the second quarter of 2021 and the first electricity in 2022.
Exxaro began working on the first phase of the bankable feasibility study for the opencast Thabametsi mine in 2014 and envisages also potentially supplying coal to second bid window independent power producers, as well as the export of high value coal abroad.
Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo described the award as the realisation of a vision to power economic development and jobs.
“We’ve played to our coal production strengths and partnered with competent power station entities,” Mgojo said in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.
The current regulatory developments are opening the way for Exxaro – already the largest supplier of coal to State-owned power utility Eskom – to play a role in providing private-sector-led coal power.
Exxaro’s coal mines produce 39-million tons a year of energy and coking coal.
The company mines in Mpumalanga as well as in Limpopo, where Grootegeluk hosts a large coal beneficiation complex and supplies Eskom’s long-standing Matimba power station as well as its new Medupi power station.
By 2017, Exxaro’s R3.8-billion Belfast mine under construction is expected to begin ramping up towards a production rate of 2.2-million tonnes of export steam coal a year and 500 000 t of local power station coal.
The company’s investment portfolio includes a 50% interest in Cennergi, a joint venture with Tata Power, which has developed two wind farms with a combined generation capacity of 229 MW as part of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.