Anthracite mine ZAC to reopen amid optimism of improvement in global coal market

ZULULAND Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) was due to re-open amid an anticipated improvement in the global anthracite market, said mine owner and operator, Menar which is a privately-owned company.

The operation was put on care and maintenance shortly after South Africa’s government announced a harsh six week lockdown following the initial emergence of Covid-19 disease in South Africa during March and April last year.

The lockdown, mirrored in other economies globally, “severely impacted demand volumes and prices for anthracite in 2020,” said Menar in a statement.

“It has been a very challenging year for all industries; however, we are seeing a steady rebound in market conditions and ZAC is well-placed to support existing and new customers in their anthracite product supply need on a long-term basis,” said Bradley Hammond, Menar COO.

ZAC consists of three shafts with a fourth shaft planned to open in 2022 and at full capacity produces 1 million tons (Mt) of anthracite annually.

The mine complex has sufficient capacity and access to rail for export and transport to local and international consumers. ZAC is the preferred supplier to key industrial clients in the South African and international markets, said Hammond.

Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) said earlier this week that exports dropped to 70.2Mt during calendar 2020 from 72.2Mt in 2019 so declining to throughput levels last seen in 2013.

Despite this RBCT CEO, Alan Waller, said he was happy with that performance pointing out the terminal had performed well despite the Covid-19 pandemic and had shipped all the coal that was railed to it from the 65 South African collieries which supply the export market.

Last year’s export target was 77Mt and terminal management has set that tonnage level again as the target for 2021.