Thabametsi coal mine

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Coal Mine Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.
Please visit Global Energy Monitor to download the dataset

The Thabametsi coal mine was an approved, opencast greenfield mine, meant to supply up to 3.9 million tonnes of coal per year to power the proposed Thabametsi power station in South Africa’s Limpopo province.


The map below shows the exact location of the project. It is located near Lephalale, Limpopo in South Africa; adjacent to Exxaro's Grootegeluk coal mine.

Loading map...


Exxaro secured approval for the Thabametsi coal mine in June 2014.[1] Exxaro – the company that owns the mine - anticipates operations will begin in 2021 in line with the development ramp-up schedule of the power station which is expected to be operational in 2021. [2]

Mining operations appear to be in limbo due to strong opposition to the proposed Thabametsi power station. Previous notifications on Exxaro's website anticipated mine output beginning as early as 2017.

According to Exxaro, approval for the mine was secured in 2016:

December 2014: Environmental Impact Assessment

December 2015: Integrated Water Use License

May and June 2016: Mining right granted and executed

The opening of the power plant remains uncertain following a series of successful legal challenges led by environmental organizations, combined with the withdrawl of funding for the plant by at least three financial institutions, Standard Bank, FirstRand and Nedbank, in 2018-2019.[3][4]

In addition, Engineering News reported in August 2019 that the delay in the opening of the power plant was also delaying the development of the Thabametsi coal mine.[5]

On November 30, 2020, 'Business Day' reported that Thabametsi agreed to the setting aside of its environmental authorisation, settling the litigation with Earthlife and groundWork, and notified the government that it was cancelling the project.[6]

In December 2020, the environmental authorization was officially set aside by the Pretoria High Court.[7]

Project Details

  • Owner: Exxaro
  • Parent company: Exxaro
  • Location: About 25 km east of Lephalale, Limpopo; adjacent to Exxaro's Grootegeluk mine[8]
  • GPS coordinates: -23.663812, 27.486556 (exact)
  • Mine status: Cancelled
  • Start year: 2021
  • Mineable reserves: 130 million tonnes[8]
  • Coal type: Thermal
  • Mine size:
  • Mine type: Opencast and underground
  • Production: 3.9 million tonnes of coal per year (proposed)
  • Additional proposed production:
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees:


  1. Exxaro gives nod to R3.8bn new coal mine, IOL Business Report, 27 Jun. 2019
  2. Exxaro’s Thabametsi power project chosen as preferred IPP bidder, Mining Review Africa, 13 Oct. 2016
  3. "Court orders government to disclose records on coal power plants," groundWork, Feb 6, 2019
  4. "Standard Bank pulls plug on new coal IPP projects; Thabametsi, Khanyisa at risk," Biznews, April 17, 2019
  5. Climate risk lifting insurance premiums for coal mining company Exxaro, Engineering News, 22 Aug. 2019.
  6. "SA saved from the R12.57bn environmental disaster that Thabametsi would have been". Business Day. 2020-11-30. Retrieved 2020-11-30.
  7. "The writing is on the wall for coal-fired stations in South Africa," ESI Africa, June 4, 2021
  8. 8.0 8.1 THABAMETSI PROJECT, Exxaro website, accessed 5 Nov. 2019.