The New Clydesdale Colliery (NCC) is an integrated thermal coal mine located in the Kriel district of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa. It comprises the New Clydesdale Colliery and its adjacent Roodekop resource project.
Mine operator Universal Coal owns a 49% stake in the project while the majority (51%) is owned by Ndalamo Resources. The mine comprises both underground and open-pit resources.
Phase one of the project is an underground operation that was commissioned in September 2016, making Universal Coal a multi-mine coal producer in the country. Located 70km west of the NCC mine, the Kangala coal mine is the company’s first mine and has been in operation since 2014.
An open-pit development, phase two produces a further two million tonnes of premium-quality domestic or export-quality thermal coal a year, increasing the mine’s total production capacity to 2.9 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa).
The NCC mine produced run-of-mine (ROM) 4Mtpa in 2019. It has more than ten years of mine life.
New Clydesdale Colliery details
The mining area of the project comprises two sections. The first is the New Clydesdale Colliery area, which is an established mine with both underground and open-pit mineral ores in different parts of the mine. The project already has a coal handling and processing plant, an access adit, access roads, power and water supply facilities, and other supporting infrastructure.
Both the underground and open cast mining techniques have been used historically to extract ore from the mine.
The second section is the Roodekop Resource, which is an open-pit mine contiguous to the NCC. The resource is mined and operated along with the NCC. The environmental impact assessment (EIA) has been completed, and water use licence and social and labour plan have been received for the Roodekop Resource.
Universal holds the right to mine Portion-1 and the remaining extent of the Farm Roodekop until February 2035.
Geology and mineralisation
The New Clydesdale Colliery is located at the centre of the southern border of the Witbank coalfield, which comprises the coal-bearing Vryheid formation that consists of five coal seam sequences named from 5 Seam (S5) to 1 Seam (S1).
The seams S5, S4, S2 and S1 are found to have ores of economic interest. The coal seams have a thickness between 0.5m and 7m and are separated by inter-burden units of thickness, which are thicker than the individual coal seams.
New Clydesdale Colliery reserves
The New Clydesdale Colliery mine holds 48.19Mt of proven and 6.61Mt of probable ore reserves and a total of 136.67Mt of measured, indicated and inferred resources as of June 2019.
The integrated mine produces 24% Eskom coal, 18% ash for low-phosphorus coal product for use in metallurgical industry, 15% ash product for export, and 1% sulphur.
Mining and processing at the NCC
Phase one involves underground mining from the Diepspruit underground area of the mine. Conventional board and pillar mining method has been finalised with continuous miners (CMs) and shuttle cars. Drill and blast mining method is used for dyke areas.
The other section of the mine, the Roodekop farm, is an open-pit mine and requires the truck and shovel method to extract the minerals. The excavation and haulage activities require four 100t excavators, 16 40t articulated dump trucks, and two dozers.
Ore is processed at the existing coal handling and processing plant (CHPP) located roughly 6km from the mine site. The plant was upgraded and renovated to meet the current production requirements.
With a processing capacity of 3Mtpa, the CHPP includes primary and secondary crushing, screening and washing circuits. Three semi-independent streams are incorporated in the plant, with the biggest stream producing Eskom thermal coal, the medium one producing export thermal coal, and the third and the smallest one producing metallurgical coal. Every stream can be operated on its own.
The other equipment required for feeding and product loading were leased from third-party suppliers.
Infrastructure facilities at the integrated thermal coal mine
The integrated mine is well connected to both rail and road infrastructure, including the Transnet Freight Rail Export rail line to the Richards Bay Coal Export Terminal. It is also located at the centre of the coal mining area of South Africa, where experienced mining workers and equipment suppliers are available.
The NCC already has a fully equipped processing plant, well-developed access roads, water, power, and transport infrastructure. The Roodekop farm, however, require new infrastructure such as maintenance and haul roads, box cut access, water management facilities, processing plant, and so on.
Coal supply agreements
South African electricity utility company Eskom signed a seven-year coal supply agreement (CSA) with Universal Coal to supply 1.6Mtpa of coal produced at the NCC in November 2016.
Eskom received its first coal in March 2017.
Universal Coal shortlisted Trollope Mining Services as the preferred contractor for the open-pit mining, operation and infrastructure development at the mine.
The underground mining operations are conducted by STA Coal Mining Company, while the contract to refurbish and operate the CHPP was awarded to Ingwenya Mineral Processing.