Lamu coal power plant
Bucket of coal and helmet coal miner. Credit: 123rf

On Monday, South African energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced Thabametsi as one of the two selected preferred bidders for the country’s first Coal-Baseload Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

Exxaro Resources Ltd (Exxaro), who has been selected as the preferred coal supplier for a signed period of 30-years, has “expressed their delight” in a recent statement.

Mxolisi Mgojo, chief executive officer of Exxaro Resources, said: “This is an exciting milestone for Exxaro and in realising our vision of creating jobs and powering economic development in South Africa.

“As the largest supplier of coal to Eskom, we are already integrated in South Africa’s energy value chain and look forward to being able take advantage of the opportunities provided by current regulatory developments in the mineral and energy sectors to develop a coal mine that can supply new power-generating capacity.”

Thabametsi coal-fired station

The coal-fired power station will be built near Lephalale, Limpopo Province, adjacent to Exxaro’s existing Grootegeluk Complex, the mining company said in a statement.

The firm noted that the plant will generate 557.3MW (net) of electricity for the national grid from coal supplied by Phase 1 of Exxaro’s planned Thabametsi Mine.

Thabametsi Mine Phase 1 will be developed at an approximate cost of ZAR3 billion ($210 million) to supply approximately 3.9 million tonnes of coal per year at full capacity.

“The new mine is scheduled to produce its first coal in Q2/2021 (and ramp-up until end 2022), in line with the development ramp-up schedule of the power station, which is expected to be operational in 2021,” Exxaro explained.

The company added that the plant’s development creates opportunities to supply coal to other coal IPPs in the Waterberg that could bid in Window 2, as well as the mining of high value coal seams for the export market.