Sasol’s R14 billion mine replacement programme injects new life into Sasol’s ageing coal mines in the Secunda areas.
Meaning “a place of wealth in TshiVenda”, Shondoni is one of the most modern mining operations of its kind in South Africa and the latest in the mine replacement programme. The official Shondoni Colliery inauguration took place on 5 July 2018 and replaces Sasol mining’s Middelbult Colliery, which has reached the end of its lifespan.
“Commencing some six years ago, our mine replacement programme led to the establishment of three new world-scale coal mines, namely Thubelisha, Impumelelo, and Shondoni,” said Bongani Nqwababa Sasol’s Joint President and CEO, “This programme, which is nearing completion, has secured coal supply to our Secunda Synfuels Operations up to at least 2050, while sustaining some 4000 direct jobs. These large projects were executed within budget and without any interruption in coal supply to our downstream operations.”
“To many South Africans, Sasol is seen as a petrochemicals company. While this is a core part of our identity, it overlooks the fact that we are also a significant player in the mining industry,” said Nqwababa, “We are one of the largest underground coal complexes in the world and the third largest producer of coal in South Africa. We produce over 40 million tons of coal annually. Of this, more than 90% is beneficiated for the production of our high-quality fuels and chemicals, while the rest is exported.”
“Our mining strategy is premised on remaining the leader in safe and low-cost underground coal mining,” Nqwababa further said,” We can only run a successful mining business if we do so safely. Safety is an overarching concern across our entire business and is a core value for Sasol. In the financial year 2018, Sasol, unfortunately, recorded four tragic fatalities. Three of these were in our mining operations. We are deeply disheartened and utterly disappointed by these losses. On 25 January 2018, we shut down all our mining operations in order to take stock, reflect and map a safer future.
Sasol has redoubled their efforts to proactively eliminate fatalities and high severity incidents in their operations.
In his speech, Nqwababa said that while Sasol is a global company, they remain proud of their home market and their commitment to South Africa has never wavered
In the financial year 2017, Sasol invested R115 billion in their South African operations. This includes R1.6 billion invested in skills and socio-economic development programmes globally, 80% of which was in South Africa. On capital spent specifically, over the past five years, Sasol has invested more than R94 billion in South Africa. Sasol also remains a leading taxpayer, contributing at least R35 billion annually to the fiscus.
“We are also investing more in the development of highly skilled and passionate individuals. To this end, Sasol, at any given time has about 1300 artisans in training. This is well above our own needs,” said Nqwababa, “We have committed to training at least 1000 artisans over the next four years in support of the YES (Youth Employment Service) programme. In fact, we will be absorbing the first intake of these young people at our Secunda and Sasolburg operations before the end of this year.
In his opening remarks Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe said that to many the event was just the opening of a mine, but to him, this is a South African company investing in increasing the productive capacity of the country and the coal mining industry of South Africa. “That is the significance of this mine. “
“South African mines that are on care and maintenance are bad for the economy and the issue is being raised with the Minerals Council,” Mantashe said on Thursday. “The Department of Minerals and Energy has been to 11 mining areas to obtain feedback on the Mining Charter.”
The government published the latest draft of the Mining Charter on June 15 after months of negotiations with companies, labour unions, and communities. The set of rules is aimed at redistributing the country’s mineral wealth more equally among South Africans to make up for racial discrimination during apartheid.
Mantashe defended various aspects of the draft charter, including its proposed 30% black shareholding in companies that would provide 14% equity to entrepreneurs and a 10% free carry for communities and workers. “Transformation is not a compliance issue. Transformation is a business imperative,” Mantashe said.
“The department felt a 30% empowerment shareholding was important, Mantashe said. “The entrepreneur portion deliberately targeted black capitalists and those who already operated businesses.”
Included in the draft mining charter remains the principle of once empowered, always empowered, in terms of which companies that had previously achieved the target of 26% black ownership would be recognised for it, even if the shareholding was subsequently watered down.
He said, however, that where empowerment partners had been elbowed out, the business could not be considered empowered.
Modern in many respects, distinguishing Shondoni from the rest of Sasol’s other five collieries is the use of renewable energy, which includes the use of solar geysers to heat pumps. The mine also holds the record of having the longest single flight conveyor without an intermediate booster drive in Africa, at 21km. Over the next 30 years, it is expected to deliver between 8 and 9 MT of coal per annum and currently employs about 1 200 people.
The winder house was constructed on the surface and lifted with one lift into position which resulted in a more cost-effective and safer methodology. Weighing 291 tonnes, the winder house was moved horizontally over a distance of 58m and lifted 30m high.
Large steel structures for the material handling system were assembled in modules on the surface and were then lifted in position, reducing the exposure of people working at heights.
The mine is served by a 150m deep, 11,7m diameter man/material shaft with a 65ton payload capacity, a 120m deep, 9m diameter ventilation shaft and a 6 x 3m incline shaft which accommodates an incline conveyor.
During construction of the mine, more than 2,9 million cubic meters of earth were moved and over 50 000 cubic meters of concrete placed.