exxaro coal
Feature image credit: Wikimedia


Exxaro Resources broke ground at its Belfast coal project in Mpumalanga last year. This is one of the last substantial coal deposits remaining in the 100-year-old Mpumalanga coalfields.

The development of the Belfast mine is largely driven by innovation and digitisation, which is in line with the company’s 2026 strategy aimed at remaining relevant in the changing world in which it operates.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019

The mine will use the latest technologies to deploy a digital mine operations management system that will generate insights and reports to improve decision-making that will in turn, reduce the mine’s costs and ensure it remains low on the cost curve.

Most importantly, Belfast mine will be the first of its kind in South Africa to have a “digital twin” – a complete digital replica of the mine that will enable the relevant people to connect to and manage it from anywhere in the world.

To further highlight the mine’s digital connectedness, the maintenance teams will be connected to certain machinery to analyse and pick up problems early – resulting in increased safety and reduced downtime, which will allow Exxaro to continuously drive for improved overall productivity.

Once operational in mid-2020, the mine is expected to produce 2.7 Mtpa of thermal coal for export over its 17-year life of mine. This will be followed by a Phase 2, which is expected to add another 10 to 15 years to the current 17-year life of mine.

Judges’ comments:

Roger Dixon: “A clear leader in digitalisation”

Jim Pooley: “The embracing of the ‘digitalisation in mining’ concept on a whole mine basis is impressive and certainly indicates the how mines of the future will be”

You can read the full digital magazine here or subscribe here to receive a print copy