JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa has no option but Transnet, and the country must make the State logistics enterprise work or the entire economy will grind to a halt, Menar MD Vuslat Bayoglu highlighted in an interview with Mining Weekly.
Menar is a private investment company with an actively managed portfolio of mining assets that include coal, anthracite, manganese, gold and nickel. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
“Transnet did not do well in terms of coal. However, they have identified the issues and are taking initiative to resolve them, the biggest one being the locomotives availability,” noted Bayoglu, who is part of a mining industry that is working with Transnet to find solutions.
“We regularly have discussions with the team at Transnet on what needs to be done to increase locomotives availability and to ensure that the system works efficiently,” he said.
But Transnet's inability to meet its targets has meant that a significant volume of coal exports has had to be trucked and diverted to Maputo port in Mozambique, which means not being able to make use of South Africa’s world-class and multi-award-winning private-sector-owned Richards Bay Coal Terminal in KwaZulu-Natal.
Bayoglu expressed confidence, however, that Transnet’s challenges are not insurmountable and he is looking forward to seeing how the South Africa-hosted Brics Summit will help Transnet to secure the delivery from the Chinese rail manufacturing company of the remainder of locomotives and the provision of parts and services to the ones that have been delivered.
PROJECTS UNDER WAY
Menar is expecting to create an eventual 430-plus job opportunities at the company’s advancing Gugulethu Colliery project, where 86 employees are already at work in Mpumalanga. The first washed coal from Gugulethu is likely to be ready in the first quarter of next year.
The company is finding that the appetite to invest in coal is not completely diminished. In addition, the prices of 2022 have left coal mining companies with balance sheets sufficiently stable to reinvest and to channel financial resources towards expansion.
Once Menar’s Gugulethu project is fully operational, the company intends developing – hopefully in the first or second quarter of next year – the fully licensed Thuso underground mining project in Bethal, Mpumalanga, which has a ten-year life-of-mine.
In addition, the Mngeni shaft at the company’s Zululand Anthracite Colliery is expected to produce its first coal in October, and at the Kangra operation, the Udumo and Belgarthen shafts reached record production last month, with 72 000 t run-of-mine coal emanating from one of the sections.
The Bekezela project in Springs, once fully operational, will create about 800 jobs. “However, we’re still waiting for the water use license to be finalised and hope it will be approved by the end of this year,” said Bayoglu.
Even though the coal price is down when compared with the first year of the Russia-Ukraine war, it is still higher than the pre-Covid period, with Menar able to raise significant revenues for growth opportunities.