Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 17 June 2010
Coal of Africa (CoAL) has started mining operations at its Vele coking coal mine in Limpopo Province, even though it has not received the final water permit it requires to go ahead.
A trading update issued by the company stated that first blasting had commenced during early June. But the update also noted that the company still awaited the approval of an integrated water use licence, an application for which was submitted to the Department of Water Affairs on 10 November, 2009.
“CoAL is liaising with the relevant authorities on an ongoing basis and remains confident that the required licence should be received prior to the intended commissioning of the plant and first production,” the update stated.
Queried on this, CoAL managing director Simon Farrell told Miningmx: “We expect to get the water permit within the next two weeks. The actions we are taking at the mine are within the conditions of the granting of the mining lease.”
The Vele project will eventually produce 5 million tonnes of coking coal per annum, depending on prevailing market conditions.
The Vele mine has drawn severe opposition from conservation bodies because of its proximity to the Mapungubwe National Park.
A consortium consisting of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the World Wildlife Fund South Africa, the Peace Parks Foundation and other conservation bodies has objected to all industrial activity in this part of the Limpopo Valley “without an approved integrated regional development plan”.
While the Vele mine is situated some distance from the eastern boundary of Mapungubwe, the future development of the region could include construction of a power station and a railway line linking it to the town of Musina.
Exploration companies are also examining the coal bed methane potential of the region, which is underlain by poor quality coal seams.