Penumbra underground coal mine is located in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Image courtesy of Continental Coal Limited (Conticoal).
The Penumbra coal mine has reserves of 5.44 million tonnes. Image courtesy of Continental Coal Limited (Conticoal).
The coal production at Penumbra mine commenced in November 2012. Image courtesy of Continental Coal Limited (Conticoal).

Penumbra coal mine

Penumbra underground coal mine is located 6km south of Ermelo in the Mpumalanga province, South Africa. The mine is expected to produce 750,000t of RB1 blend steam coal a year during its ten-year mine life.

Continental Coal is the owner and operator of the Penumbra mine. The feasibility study of the mine was completed in February 2010 and the mining operations commenced in November 2012.

Continental Coal is currently carrying out geotechnical works at the mine to increase the run-of-mine (ROM) ore production levels to 63,000t a month.

Penumbra mine geology and reserves

The Penumbra coal mine is located within the Ermelo coalfields of the Mpumalanga province. The province is made up of Permian-aged Vryheid formations from the Ecca group.

The mine has reserves of approximately 5.44 million tonnes of coal. The combined measured and indicated coal resources have been estimated at 68.3 million tonnes (mt).

Penumbra coal mine development

The Penumbra mine was developed as an underground coal bord and pillar mining operation. The development cost of the mine was approximately $40m.

"The mine is expected to produce 750,000t of RB1 blend steam coal a year during its ten-year mine life."

The box-cut at Penumbra is developed up to 18m deep. It is accessed through two declines measuring 390m and developed at a 1:7 inclination. The first decline consists of a conveyor and the second one serves as a trackless equipment travelling route.

Two mechanised coal production sections are developed, each consisting of a continuous miner. It also includes shuttle cars and battery haulers to deal with both mid and low seam heights.

Coal mining and processing at Penumbra mine

The underground coal mining at Penumbra was commenced in November 2012 using two 14HM15 continuous miners. The coal production started from the C-lower seam, which has a depth between 50m to 115m and a thickness of 1.8m at depth.

The ROM coal is processed at the 1.8mtpa processing plant at Delta Processing Operations (DPO) and is stockpiled at the 1.2mtpa Anthra Rail Siding. The DPO is currently processing the coal from the Ferreira pit.

The ore undergoes a primary and secondary wash at the DPO. The export quality coal is transported to Richards Bay Coal Terminal and sold to EDF trading. The low quality thermal coal is sold to Eskom and used in the Camden power station.

Construction and infrastructure facilities at Penumbra mine

Construction works at Penumbra coal mine started in September 2011 with the excavation of a box-cut and followed by twin declines development. It also included construction of two continuous production sections and one stone development section.

Other construction works included those of the upcast ventilation shaft and the underground shaft bottom.

The power system includes 630kVA and 1,250kVA transformers and containerised medium voltage substations.

"The combined measured and indicated coal resources have been estimated at 68.3 million tonnes."

Infrastructure facilities such as the water reticulation system, water treatment plant and a main ventilation fan were also constructed.

Financing for the Penumbra gold mine

ABSA Capital provided term loan debt finance facility for the development of Penumbra coal mine. The repayment of the term loan facility is scheduled to commence in August 2014.

Contractors involved with the Penumbra mine development

TWP Projects was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for developing the Penumbra coal mine. The contractor conducted the feasibility study of the underground bord and pillar coal mine along with earthworks, decline development, infrastructure and electrical distribution system.

The civil works contract was awarded to Leomat. The contractual scope also included mine establishment and opencast mining works.

Joy Mining Machinery was awarded the contract for supplying two 14HM15 continuous miners and four 10SC32 shuttle cars.

Murray & Roberts was contracted to develop the twin decline at the Penumbra coal mine.

ENI was awarded the contract for providing electrical installation works at the mine.

Enbitec Consultants was awarded the contract for setting up the water purification system, sewerage and pre-treatment plants.

Geology Exploration Mining Evaluation Consulting Services was awarded the contract for the geological modelling and mine design of the Penumbra coal mine.

NRI Energy Technology

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