DRA Projects has been chosen to perform the optimisation study and front-end engineering and design (FEED) package for Coal of Africa’s (CoAL) Makhado coal project in Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Under the deal, DRA will provide infrastructure components for the project, which is expected to produce its first coal in 2019.

The project is located 80km from CoAL’s existing Vele Colliery and will produce both hard-coking coal and thermal coal.

The operation will initially be an open-cast mine, with an option to be expanded to an underground operation in future.

Earlier, DRA prepared a definitive feasibility study for the Makhado coal processing and handling facilities, with work completed in 2013.

DRA Projects CEO Paul Thomson said: "It is especially pleasing to be awarded this next phase of the investigation and development of the Makhado coal project.

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"The operation will initially be an open-cast mine, with an option to be expanded to an underground operation."

"Our early interaction with CoAL began in 2010 with initial studies and the new award is testament to the sound relationship established between our two organisations and our respective project teams."

As part of the optimisation study and FEED phase, appropriate cost reduction opportunities will be identified to help optimise the project’s economics.

Work on the Makhado site is expected to start during the second half of 2016, followed by a 26-month build programme.

CoAL CEO David Brown said: "This is an exciting yet crucial phase of the project development and being associated with DRA during this period will ensure a successful start to the construction of the Makhado Project."

Image: Work on the Makhado site is expected to begin during the second semester of 2016. Photo: courtesy of Coal of Africa Limited.