Wolvekrans Middelburg mine

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The Wolvekrans-Middelburg Complex is an operating coal complex, owned by South Africa Energy Coal and currently in the process of being purchased by Seriti Resources, an African mining company.[1][2][3]

The open cut mines are located approximately 20 kilometres south of Middelburg in Mpumalanga Province and produces what the company describes as "a medium rank bituminous thermal coal, most of which can be beneficiated for the European or Asian export market." The mine was commissioned in 1982.[4]

Location

The map below shows the approximate location of the complex.[5]

Loading map...

Background

For many years, Middelburg was majority owned by BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton. BHP Biliton owned 84% of the Middelburg mine in a joint venture with the remaining 16% owned by Xstrata via Tavistock Collieries Plc.[4] In an October 2007 conference presentation, BHP Billiton included a map of the proposed mining area for the Douglas-Middelburg area.

Source: BHP Billiton

(Full size image here)

The presentation also stated that in an average year the Middelburg mine:[6]

  • resulted in the removal of 6 million cubic metres of topsoil;
  • used 65.5 million kilograms of explosives;
  • resulted in 2.5 million metres of drilling
  • resulted in 125 million cubic metres of overburden removed;
  • for an annual run of mine coal production of 23 million tonnes.
  • 339 hecatres of disturbed land requiring rehabilitation.

In its 2009 annual report BHP Billiton states that "BECSA and Tavistock are the joint holders of three Old Order Mining Rights in the joint venture ratio (84:16) and BECSA is the 100% holder of a fourth Old Order Mining Right. All four Old Order Rights were lodged for conversion in December 2008. BECSA and Tavistock have amended their joint venture agreement such that, upon conversion of the four Old Order Mining Rights, the mining area will be divided into an area wholly-owned and operated by Tavistock and an area wholly-owned and operated by BECSA as the new Middelburg mine. A number of regulatory approvals are being sought to give effect to this restructure."[4]

On its website in 2010, BHP Billiton stated that "Middelburg Mine Services is the largest producer in the BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa group ... The principal products are power station grade coal for Eskom’s nearby Duvha power station and higher quality export grade products for the seaborne steam coal markets."[7] Export coal is transported to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal while coal for the Duvha Power Station is delivered by a conveyor belt.[4] The Douglas-Middelburg Optimisation Project is a mine rationalisation project being undertaken by BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa.

In its 2009 annual report BHP Billiton states:

"this project involves works to optimise the development of existing reserves across the Douglas and Middelburg collieries, the development of additional mining areas and the construction of a new 14 million tonnes per annum coal processing plant, which will replace the less efficient existing plant at Douglas. The work will enable us to maintain energy coal exports from the combined Douglas and Middelburg colliery at around current levels (approximately 10 million tonnes per annum) while also fulfilling our domestic contractual commitments. The expected capital investment is US$975 million and the new plant is scheduled to receive its first coal in mid CY2010."[8]

In an April 2010 report on its exploration and development projects, BHP Billiton stated that the optimisation project was "on schedule and budget. The overall project is 96% complete."[9]

BHP Billiton spun out Middelburg mine as part of the Wolvekrans-Middelburg Complex into South Africa Energy Coal (SAEC), owned by parent company South32 Ltd, in 2015, explaining that

"The current configuration of the WMC is the result of a series of mergers and the acquisition of various separate collieries (Albion, Vandykesdrift, Boschmanskrans, Driefontein, Steenkoolspruit, Douglas, Wolvekrans, Goedehoop, Hartebeestfontein and Klipfontein) over an extended history. This has involved multiple changes of ownership including holdings by Witbank Collieries Limited, TC Lands, Anglo-Transvaal Collieries, Barlow Rand Group, Rand Mines/Randcoal, Shell, BP, JCI, Gencor, ICC, Ingwe, Billiton International and BHP Billiton. SAEC currently owns a 100 per cent interest and operates the WMC."[10][11]

A social impact assessment published in July 2015 as part of South32's acquisition recommended the Klipfontein extension of the Wolvekrans-Middelburg Complex proceed.[12]

In August 2019, news reports indicated that South32 is in the process of selling the Wolvekrans-Middelburg Complex to Seriti Resources, an African mining company, for between $300 million to $350 million.[1][13] As of early September 2019, the deal had yet to be approved by the Department of Mineral Resources.[14] Mail & Guardian further reports speculation that, "should the deal be concluded, Seriti would become Eskom’s second-biggest coal supplier, at 32.5% — about 39-million tonnes — of the state-owned utility’s coal procurement spend."[14] Mining MX reports "Seriti has been chosen as the preferred bidder; it is not yet the de facto owner," and will spend the next 12 months finalizing the deal.[15]

Project Details

  • Owner: South Africa Energy Coal
  • Parent company: South32 Ltd (92%) and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment consortium led by Phembani Holdings (6%)
  • Location: About 20 km south of Middelburg, Mpumalanga province
  • GPS coordinates: -25.8994440, 29.4605560[16]
  • Mine status: Operating
  • Start year: 1982[17]
  • Mineable reserves: 383 million tonnes proved, with 422.1 Mt proved and probable[18]
  • Total Resources: 832.1 Mt[18]
  • Coal type: Bituminous
  • Mine size:
  • Mine type: Open-cast
  • Production: The peak production of Wolvekrans-Middelburg is 26.4 Mtpa.[19] However, the mine complex produced just 13.8 Mtpa in 2014.[20]
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees:

Articles and resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 South32 closes door on its SA coal business, IOL Business Report, 23 Aug. 2019
  2. South Africa’s Seriti Resources Wins Bid for South32 Coal Assets, Bloomberg News, 20 Aug. 19.
  3. "South32, Seriti kept waiting on critical deal whilst Eskom mulls ins and outs of hardship," "Mining Mx," May 21, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 BHP Billiton, 2009 BHP Billiton Annual Report, BHP Billiton, September 2009.
  5. South32 UK Prospectus, South32 Competent Persons Report, 11 Mar. 2015, page 66.
  6. BHP Billiton, "Mission Directed Work Teams", International Show and Tell conference, October 25, 2007, page3 13-15.
  7. "BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa", BHP Billiton website, accessed June 2010.
  8. BHP Billiton, 2009 BHP Billiton Annual Report, BHP Billiton, September 2009, page 49.
  9. BHP Billiton, "BHP Billiton Exploration and Development Report for the Quarter Ended 31 March 2010", April 21, 2010, page 2.
  10. South32 UK Prospectus, South32 Competent Persons Report, 11 Mar. 2015, page 70.
  11. South32 UK Prospectus, South32 Competent Persons Report, 11 Mar. 2015, page 1.
  12. Klipfontein Section of Middelburg Mine, Jones and Wagener website, accessed Oct 2019
  13. South Africa’s Seriti Resources Wins Bid for South32 Coal Assets, Bloomberg News, 20 Aug. 19.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Big deal over ‘strange’ coal mine meeting, Mail & Guardian, 6 Sep. 2019.
  15. SA’s national interest played a pivotal role in Seriti winning the rights to SA Energy Coal, Mining MX, 9 Sep. 2019.
  16. South32 UK Prospectus, South32 Competent Persons Report, 11 Mar. 2015, page 66.
  17. South32 UK Prospectus, South32 Competent Persons Report, 11 Mar. 2015, page 9.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "ANNUAL REPORT 2019," "South 32," 2019.
  19. South32 UK Prospectus, South32 Competent Persons Report, 11 Mar. 2015, page 6.
  20. "South Africa Energy Coal to become a Stand-Alone," "Financial Times," November 27, 2017.

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