Sasol Mining (Pty) Ltd operates underground coal mining operations at Bosjesspruit, Brandspruit, Middelbult, Syferfontein and Twistdraai (around Secunda, Mpumalanga) and Sigma (near Sasolburg, Mpumalanga).
Sasol Mining extracts about 40 Mt of saleable coal each year, most of which is used as gasification feedstock for Sasol Synfuels in Secunda and utilities coal for the Sasolburg Operations. Sasol Mining also exports about 2.8 Mt of coal each year from the Twistdraai Export Plant to international power generation markets in Europe and the Far East.
With many of the traditional mines approaching the end of their life, a R14 billion mine replacement programme is currently in the process of replacing 60% of Sasol Mining coal supply operations by 2020. Below is a list of these refurbishment and expansion projects.
Bosjesspruit is an underground mine and forms part of the Secunda Mining Complex. It is mined through bord-and-pillar and total extraction mining methods. Coal preparation is crushing.
The project aims to develop an extension to the 25-year-old Bosjesspruit Colliery. This extension is the effective relocation of Bosjesspruit into the Irenedale South Reserves. It will include an incline shaft together with surface overland conveyors along with a vertical shaft at a depth of 165 m. The project will extend the life of Bossjesspruit mine by at least another 20 years.
Impumelelo (formerly Carmona) Mine covers an area of about 21 000 hectares. With the Twistdraai, Brandspruit and Middelbult Mines approaching their end of life, the ramping up of Impumulelo Mine, together with Thubelisha Mine, are key strategic coal supplies. The mines will have the ability to produce between 9.5 and 10.5 Mt a year and will deliver to both the export market as well as Sasol Synfuels.
Impumelelo is a conventional bord-and-pillar, high extraction, stoping and mechanised mine. A conveyor from Impumelelo to the existing (SCS) Sasol Coal Supply blending plant was built. There is a 15 000-tonne surface bunker at Impumelelo and 4 000-tonne bunker at Brandspruit, where the coal will continue to Sasol Synfuels through the original Sasol Mining Brandspruit Colliery materials handling system. Ramp-up time to full capacity will be about eight years, with first production in August 2015.
Thubelisha replaces the export reserves due to the mining out of three export shafts from Twistdraai. Thubelisha is a new underground mine with new shaft infrastructure and development. Bord-and-pillar mining is the primary extraction method. It is designed for a production capacity of between 9 and 10.5 Mt of coal per annum. The Thubelisha Shaft Project entails mammoth materials handling infrastructure, valued at almost R1 billion, and is among the largest mine replacement projects to date.
The shaft system includes two vertical and one decline shaft extending to a depth of 160 m, and includes an 18 km surface conveyor system. The projected lifespan of the shaft is between 32 and 35 years.
The Shondoni project is another mine designed to replace the Twistdraai, Brandspruit and Middelbult Mines. With the geological disruption on the eastern border of Twistdraai – a graben that restricts normal mining from Twistdraai into a reserve some distance away – it was decided that a new mine, rather than an expansion of the active operation, would be constructed. The new mines will produce up to 10.5 Mt per year, and will deliver to both the export market as well as Sasol Synfuels. The extractable reserves at Shondoni are estimated at about 190 million tonnes, giving a mine life of about 20 years.
Shondoni is an underground bord-and-pillar and high extraction method mine. It has an underground and surface coal materials handling facility and the coal will be brought to the surface through the Shondoni Shaft single incline conveyor.
Production at Sigma Colliery began in 1954. Production is done through conventional bord-and-pillar method, continuous miners and shuttlecars. The coal is crushed to a size of <20 mm. A new underground operation in the Block 13 of the Sigma Colliery reserves has been established, with new infrastructure also being installed.
The Sigma Mooikraal Mine was brought into operation to provide coal to the group’s utility plants in Sasolburg at approximately 20 Mt per year. It was to replace the depleted Mohlolo underground operation as well as the Wonderwater high-wall operation, which were experiencing final closure and rehabilitation. The colliery consists of Sasol Sigma, Mooikraal Colliery and 3 Shaft Complex.
Adits access the coal seams from the side of the boxcut, from where coal is sent over an 18 km-long conveyor. The coal is used to raise process steam and as fuel for the generation of electricity. Coal-consuming activities are only required for steam and power generation.
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