Boikarabelo mine is a two-phased open-cut coal mine being developed in the Waterberg coalfield located in the Limpopo province of South Africa.
Spread over 9,018ha, the coal mine is expected to extract 616.85 million tonnes (Mt) of coal over its expected mine life of more than 40 years. The annual coal production is estimated to be 15.12Mt.
Coal production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 and reach the steady-state of 1.26Mt a month by December 2019.
Resource Generation (Resgen) is developing the project through its subsidiary Ledjadja Coal. Resgen holds 74% stake in Ledjadja Coal, while the remaining 26% stake is held by a South African company, Fairy Wing Trading 136.
Boikarabelo coal mine geology
The Boikarabelo coal mine is a part of Waterberg Coalfield, which hosts coal deposits in the Grootegeluk and Vryheid Formations of the Karoo Supergroup. The formations and their numerous coal zones vary in thickness from a few centimetres to several metres.
The sub-crop of the Boikarabelo displays a mixture of the Eendragtpan, Grootegeluk and the Goedgedacht or Vryheid formations.
The Boikarabelo coal seam is found at a depth of 20m-30m below the surface and has an overburden strip ratio of 0.97:1. The seam has a thickness of 120m-130m, with multiple zones of thermal and soft coking coal of altering quality.
Boikarabelo mine reserves
The Boikarabelo mine is estimated to contain JORC 2012-compliant coal reserves of 267Mt and resources of 995Mt.
Mining at Boikarabelo mine
Open-pit terrace mining method on multiple benches linked to a common ramp is proposed for the coal project.
The mine plan includes the formation of multiple mining benches to provide access to coal horizons, increase flexibility and improve plant feed quality control and equipment utilisation.
Ore processing at Boikarabelo
Coal will be processed in a coal handling and processing plant (CHPP) featuring a dense medium separation process to produce products of two different qualities.
The run-of-mine (ROM) feed size will be reduced to -50mm in a coal sizing station comprising three sizers (roll crushers). The sized raw coal will then be stockpiled on two 75,000t live stockpiles before reclaiming through a twin bucket wheel bridge conveyor.
The material will then be fed to a 500t bin, which will feed two identical dense medium separation plants. It will then pass over a de-sliming screen that separates -1.4mm material from the feed, which is routed to the coarse dense medium cyclones.
The separated -1.4mm fraction will be conveyed to the fine coal processing circuit, while the overflow from the de-sliming screen will be forwarded to the primary large diameter cyclone for waste removal through high-density separation.
Overflow from the primary cyclone will be pumped to the secondary, large-diameter cyclone for further beneficiation. The resulting overflow product from the secondary cyclone is an export-quality product, while the underflow will be a domestic steam coal product.
The produced coal will be transported to the coal terminals of Richards Bay for export through a 44km rail loop and link. RME, a subsidiary of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), will construct and operate the rail line.
Ledjadja Coal has obtained ZAR5.52bn ($403m) financing for the construction of the coal mine. The financing was provided by FirstRand Bank, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Public Investment Corporation, and Noble Resources International (Noble Resources).
Ledjadja Coal also secured R540m ($44.7m) funding from Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, under a bilateral senior loan facility agreement.
Ledjadja Coal has entered an off-take agreement with Noble Resources for the supply of coal from the Boikarabelo mine.
Ledjadja Coal will sell 800,000t of coal a year for the first three years, plus up to 300,000t of coal a year to Noble on a quarterly basis. The company has agreed to sell approximately 200,000t of coal a year from the fourth year.
Boikarabelo mine is accessible from the coal mining town of Lephalale.
Power required for conducting mining operations will be provided by Eskom, the national power supplier, under a power supply agreement. During the construction period, power will be supplied through two existing 22kV rural lines.
Water for the first phase operations will be sourced from boreholes, while processed water required for the second phase of operations will be collected from the proposed Marapong Boikarabelo Effluent Transfer (MBET) project.
Contractors involved with Boikarabelo coal mine
Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services was awarded the mining contract for the Boikarabelo coal mine.
Ledjadja Coal has awarded three separate contracts, worth $210m, to Sedgman (South Africa) and Sedgman Pty Limited (collectively Sedgman). The contracts are for engineering, procurement, and construction of the CHPP, operations and maintenance of the CHPP, and ancillary works.
Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon was appointed to undertake earthworks for the rail network stabilisation facility as well as for the power supply and construction offices.
Protech Khuthele Holdings was engaged for undertaking all earthworks and civil construction works for the 44km rail loop connecting the Boikarabelo coal mine, while Protech Khuthele sub-contracted Sandstorm Construction for the construction of six railway bridges along the line.
RSV ENCO Consultants was engaged as the EPCM Consultant for managing the rail line construction.
J Maynard and WaterBorne Capital, RCE Consultants, and PICA Security CC were some of the other contractors involved in the project.