The challenges faced by junior coal miners includes a lack of in-house skills and insufficient levels of early-stage funding

The economy will soon be relying on a new generation of black-empowered junior coal miners to build well-resourced and efficient mining operations – a task that needs suffi cient investment upfront and rapid development of in-house expertise.

By Lesley Jeffrey, SRK Consulting (SA), Principal coal geologist

Forecasts estimate that South Africa will need another 80 Mt of coal annually over the next 10 years, which is likely to require private sector investment of about R100 billion. This demand, alongside efforts to transform the mining sector, is leading to substantial opportunities for new entrants. The challenges faced by these junior coal miners, however, includes a lack of in-house skills and insufficient levels of early-stage funding.

SA’s coal sector has generally been dominated by large players with their own in-house expertise and strong balance sheets to leverage fi nance for new projects and expansions. Junior mining companies often don’t have the luxury of these resources in their early days, and this can severely hamper their growth and evolution into larger, sustainable enterprises.

However, there are ways to avoid becoming debilitated by these constraints – by ensuring high standards right from the start. Junior miners need to build their technical credibility from day one, by getting the best advice based on highquality studies and plans. A key element of this expert input is that it should be respected by the investment community, as the integrity of the feasibility and other studies is the foundation upon which investment can be…

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