Sasol officially opened a new colliery last week in Mpumalanga, South Africa, where it beneficiates coal into high-value fuel and chemical products at world scale. Meaning “success” in Nguni, Impumelelo is one of three world-class mines Sasol has constructed in the last decade as part of its R14 billion ($994 million) mine replacement program and includes Thubelisha and Shondoni.
The inauguration was attended by Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. With an investment of R5.6 billion ($398 million), Impumelelo will have the capacity to produce 10.5 million metric tons per year (mtpy). The colliery currently employs 1,760 people, most of them from nearby communities in Mpumalanga.
“In addition to sustaining some 4,000 jobs, the new mines are critical to securing coal supply to Sasol Secunda Synfuels Operations up to at least 2050,” said Sasol Joint President and CEO Bongani Nqwababa.
A unique feature of the mines is the investment in technologically advanced measures that Sasol has made to ensure the safety of its employees as well as the environment.
“These include proximity-detection systems on our production electrical trackless machines, which warn and eventually stop the machine from operating when a person is too close,” said Nqwababa.
Another technology measure the mines have is an electronic-trigger LED flickering light system to enhance the underground safety precautions. This system visually draws miners’ attention when there is movement in the roof. Other investments are in a variety of noise reduction technologies.
Sasol is the third-largest producer of coal in South Africa with an output of some 40 million mtpy.