Koornfontein coal mine

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The Koornfontein coal mine is a mine near Witbank, in Mpumalanga province, South Africa.

The mine was placed on business rescue in February 2018, until it was bought by Black Royalty Minerals in October 2019. They planned to reopen the mine in 2020.[1]


The map below shows the approximate location of the Koornfontein coal mine.

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Mining has taken place within the Koornfontein complex since at least 1991, when operations began at the pit 'Gloria.' When the mine opened, it was primarily an underground mine with at least two pits, Gloria and Blinkpan.[2]

Ownership of the mine changed many times throughout the years. In 1999, it was owned and operated by the Ingwe Coal Corporation. By 2010, Optimum Holdings had bought a majority stake in the Koornfontein Mines from Sentula Mining.[3]

In February 2018, Optimum Holdings had to go into business rescue, which occurs when a company is financially distressed and acts as an attempt to rescue and recover it. Accordingly, Optimum mine became non-operational.[4] It appears that the Koornfontein mine did as well. A December 2019 article cites that workers at Koornfontein mine had not received pay checks since early 2018, after the company was placed on business rescue, and were surviving solely on charity.[5]

"Blinkpan (the mine's adjoining town) is the poster child for capitalism’s ugly offspring," the article writes.

The following process of finding a new owner was fraught. Lurco, a black-owned coal and chrome mining operation, had the highest bid and would've included backpay to workers. But the bid from Black Royalty Minerals won out after the business rescue practitioners added a condition that the money had to be in a South African bank account, an impossibility for Lurco. The mine went to Black Royalty Minerals, which is a subsidiary of Makole Group.[5]

The desgined capacity was initailly 3.7 million tonnes per annum.[6]But according to the IEA, the designed capacity under development as of 2021 is 3 million tonnes.[7]

The mine was embroiled in a scandal when the owners were accused of "laundering of more than R100-million meant for the rehabilitation of the Optimum Coal Mine and Koornfontein Mine in 2016."[8]

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Black Royalty Minerals
  • Parent Company: Makole Group[9]
  • Location: Near Witbank, Municipality of eMalahleni, District of Nkangala, in Mpumalanga Province.
  • GPS Coordinates: -26.0999993, 29.4245782 (approximate)
  • Status: Proposed
  • Production Capacity: 3 million tonnes per annum.[7]
  • Total Resource:
  • Mineable Reserves:
  • Coal type: Thermal,[6] bituminous
  • Mine Size:
  • Mine Type: underground (bord and pillar), opencast[1]
  • Start Year: 1991
  • Source of Financing:

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Southern African Coal Report," "Southern African Coal Report," November 19, 2019.
  2. "Koornfontein mine, South Africa," "Creamer Media's Mining Weekly," December 3, 1999.
  3. Olivia Kumwenda, "[reuters.com/article/ozabs-optimumcoal-ipo-idAFJOE62S0AK20100329 S.Africa's Optimum Coal IPO raises $202 million]," "Reuters," March 29, 2010.
  4. "Optimum purchase 'not a priority' for Seriti," "Argus Media," March 28, 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Miners survive on charity while battle for Koornfontein mine drags on," "Moneyweb," December 12, 2019.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Sell-side analyst visit South Africa," "Glencore," November 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 IEA, Coal 2021 Analysis and Forecast, accesssed January 2022
  8. NPA on track in bid to bring Gupta brothers back to SA, Sunday World, June 22, 2022
  9. "Black Royalty Minerals," "Makole website," accessed August 2020.

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