According to Newscom, global consumption of coal is expected to increase by 4% per year between 2010 and 2030 in line with the rising global demand for energy. To boost production, the South African coal mining industry needs to open up new mines in the Waterberg coal basin to replace the depleted mines in the Highveld, Witbank and Ermello coalfields in Mpumalanga.

A recent report found that South Africa will struggle to meet demand over the next few years. However, despite the environmental and logistical constraints that the South African coal mining industry is facing, coal production is likely to be on the upward trend by 2011 if new mines are opened in the Waterberg coalfield. “South Africa’s coal mining industry remains unbalanced, with rising coal demand on one hand and constrained supply sources on the other. With the global demand for coal rising by an annual average of 4%, the country’s available supply capacity may not be able to cope with the upsurge in demand,” said Wonder Nyanjowa, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan. The expansion of Eskom electricity generation capacity, together with Sasol’s capacity expansion, is set to increase South Africa’s coal consumption by 75 million metric tons per year. However, coal supply will remain stagnant.