Isibonelo coal project

From Global Energy Monitor
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The Isibonelo coal mine is an active opencast mine owned by Thungela Resources Limited, a subsidiary of Anglo American, near the town of Bethal, in Mpumalanga, South Africa.[1][2]


The image below shows the exact location of the mine near Bethal, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

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In July 2005, production began at Anglo American's Isibonelo coal mine. When it began operating, it was expected to supply 5 million tonnes per annum of thermal coal to Sasol Synfuels when it reached full production during 2006.[3]

The mine consists of a north and south pit and primarily uses a dragline strip-mining method to remove coal via open cut methods. The extracted coal is ultimately routed to Sasol Synthetic Fuel's Secunda Complex.[4] Although the colliery includes both opencast and underground coal resources, the latter are still pending a sale transaction and are not yet declared.[2]

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Anglo American announced that Isibonelo would operate with a 20% reduced workforce. However, the mine planned to remain open.[5]

On June 4, 2021, previous owner Anglo American completed a demerger of its South African thermal coal assets, including the Isibonelo Mine, into a newly incorporated company, Thungela Resources Limited (Thungela).[6]

As of 2021, the reported life of mine is 5 years.[2]

Water Rights

In April 2019, a report by the Centre of Environmental Rights found that found eight coal mining companies in Mpumalanga had failed to comply with water use licenses and threatened the quality and availability of water in the area. This included the Isibonelo coal mine.[7]

According to an article by The Citizen, "The research revealed that not one of the companies took responsibility for the contamination of rivers caused by water leaving their sites during rainy conditions."[7]

Project Details

  • Operator: Thungela Operations Proprietary Limited[2]
  • Owner: Thungela Resources Limited[6]
  • Location: near Bethal, Govan Mbeki Municipality, Gert Sibande District, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa
  • GPS Coordinates: -26.4352762, 29.208912 (exact)
  • Mine Status: Operating
  • Start Year: 2005
  • Production: 4.5 Mtpa (2021)[2]
  • Mineable Reserves: 23.6 Mt[2]
  • Total Resource: 7.1 Mt[2]
  • Coal Type: Bituminous (Thermal)[4]
  • Mine size:
  • Mine Type: Surface, open pit
  • Number of Employees:

Articles and Resources


  1. Thungela Resources, Where We Operate, Accessed June 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Thungela Resources Limited, Integrated Assessment Report 2021, 2022.
  3. "ISIBONELO COAL MINE," "Anglo American website," July 4, 2005.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Isibonelo Mine," "Mining Data Solutions," accessed August 2020.
  5. "Anglo American sees lower 2020 S African thermal coal output on coronavirus," "S&P Global Platts," March 27, 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Integrated Annual Report 2021, Anglo American, Accessed June 2022.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sinesipho Schrieber, "Dept must act against coal mines polluting water – CER," "The Citizen," April 12, 2019.

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