Mafube lifex project in doubt after JV hits licensing problems

THE future of the Mafube coal mine in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province has been thrown into doubt after the government turned down its application for a water use licence.

The licence is critical in order that owner Mafube Joint Venture, consisting of Exxaro Resources and Thungela Resources, extend the mine’s tailings facilities. The Water Tribunal approved the joint venture’s plans last year, but the government’s department of water and environmental affairs rejected the application.

According to BusinessLive which reported on Mafube’s predicament today the parties are now headed to court.

The department declined the water use licence, stating owing to geohydrological issues and the civil engineering design of the liner system “promotes the concept of pollution and remediation rather than pollution prevention or containment”, said BusinessLive.

The mine is located in the Witbank coalfield of Mpumalanga, and is adjacent to Eskom’s Arnot power station, a 2,100MW coal-fired power project, said BusinessLive. It sells high ash thermal coal to the export market and a low-grade middling product to Arnot.

Mafube is hoping to exploit additional coal reserves through a life extension project valued at R1.9bn, said BusinessLive.

The project includes construction of a 7km overland conveyor to move run-of-mine from the Nooitgedacht reserve block to the current washing plant at Springboklaagte.

The plant produces primarily A-grade, export quality coal at a rate of about 3.8 million tons a year.