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Petmin looks ahead

Coal production 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM— 03 March 2009 – Petmin – South Africa’s largest anthracite exporter – will make a decision in its next financial year as to whether to double its production of the coal, and it hopes to make an acquisition before December this year.

Fion24.com reports that anthracite and silica miner Petmin turned in a strong set of results for the six months to 31 December 2008, showing gross profit rising 69% to R115 million. It poured R170 million into its operations, and most of that went to the Somkhele anthracite mine.

Somkhele will produce half a million tonnes of saleable anthracite this financial year to end-June, and a decision will then be taken on whether to expand output by installing a second plant for R100 million to double capacity, said chief operating officer Bradley Doig.

“We’ll make that call towards 2010. We’ve done the design and preparatory work, but we can’t make a call until we’ve decided where the markets are going,” he added.

Petmin is negotiating with the South African port authorities to increase the capacity at a dedicated anthracite export facility at Richards Bay harbour from the current 600 000 tonnes a year to 1.4 million tonnes.

“Once the second plant is built and the de-stoning plant is commissioned in coming months, adding 25% more production, Petmin will be close to that 1.4 million tonne target. It is also prepared to facilitate exports by other companies,” Doig said.

Doig went on to say that Petmin was not hell-bent on consolidating the anthracite market. The company is looking at bulk commodities like industrial minerals and coal.

“We would definitely consider abroad as well. We like Africa and understand it, but there are opportunities presenting themselves in other jurisdictions, which are quite exciting,” he added.

“We are evaluating some opportunities. We’d certainly like do something by December,” Doig continued. “If we find the right thing, of the ones we’re looking at, and if we decide to pursue it, we’d love to add it to our portfolio by then.”