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GIBB Mining has been awarded the tender to complete a feasibility study for Sasol Mining’s Alexander project, which seeks to deploy production sections within the Alexander coal blocks in Mpumalanga by 2025.

This forms part of Sasol Mining’s plan to fulfil their 2050 mandate to supply coal to the Secunda Synfuels Operations.

The project is an underground operation, expected to yield between six and eight million tonnes of coal per year, depending on the mining method selected.

Consulting engineering firm Jones and Wagener will conduct the environmental portion of the feasibility study for the Alexander project, while GIBB Mining will be responsible for all geotechnical and geohydrological aspects, with Jones and Wagener acting as sub-consultants to GIBB Mining in this regard.

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GIBB Mining will also look at the mine design and associated planning, specifically access to the coal reserve via a box cut and its tie-in to Sasol Mining’s overall long-term Complex plan. There are three coal blocks to be mined: Blocks 2, 3 and 4.

“A lot of geotechnical-analysis work is required to ensure that when mining takes place, the selected mining methods do not impact wetlands and watercourses negatively,” said Wingrove.

In addition to the mine design, GIBB Mining will also be responsible for the materials handling system design and all supporting infrastructure, which includes offices, buildings, workshops, a 20km mine access road, as well as the supply of bulk water and bulk power to the mine.

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GIBB Mining is currently working on the feasibility engineering designs. Once these are finalised and accepted by Sasol Mining, GIBB Mining will compile a capital cost estimate based on the design – all of which will be incorporated into a feasibility study report for issue to Sasol Mining by the end of July 2020. The mine must be commissioned by 2025.

GIBB Mining’s designs will need to consider all environmental constraints, as well as to incorporate new technological developments that will bring efficiencies to the project and the mine operation, in terms of cost, safety and water and energy efficiency.