Coal miner and developer Keaton Energy‘s production update celebrates improved safety figures, an increase in thermal coal production, but a decrease in metallurgical coal production.

Vanggatfontein colliery

Keaton Energy says its Vanggatfontein colliery in Mpumalanga, delivered 1.5 Mt of washed 2 and 4 seam thermal coal to power utility Eskom during the year, an increase of 58% from the previous year’s 956 000 t.

The company said that 5  seam metallurgical coal sales however, declined to 65 661 t from 140 000 t, as a result of pit 1’s 5 seam coal depleting in line with the mine plan.  The mine utilised the spare capacity of the 5 seam plant for the toll washing of 106 000 t of third party coal. The development of pit 3 during the last quarter, however, provides renewed and consistent 5 seam supply.

Keaton Energy pointed out that although record safety and production performances were achieved at the colliery, this was in the face of significant challenges in terms of the continuity of local electricity supply, continued poor performance of the front end of the 2 and 4 seam plant and the transport workers’ industrial action during the middle of the year.

Eskom have worked diligently to resolve the power supply issues, including a five day supply change-out in December, which worked to Keaton Energy’s benefit, while work still remains to be done to reach acceptable performance at the front end of the plant.

“Although FY13 presented Vanggatfontein with some challenges, I believe that these have been or will be overcome in the short term and I remain confident that this financial year will be a year of massive growth for this long life operation,” said Keaton Energy’s CEO Mandi Glad.

Vaalkrantz colliery

Keaton Energy’s Vaalkrantz colliery in KwaZulu-Natal, dispatched 327 000 t of anthracite to domestic and international metallurgical markets, a 7% decrease over the previous year’s 351 331 t.

The operation suffered from extremely difficult mining conditions in the West Alfred section of the mine which limited production. However, it noted that it was pleasing that despite these difficulties, the colliery’s safety performance improved.

“We are pleased with the performance at Vaalkrantz in the face of extremely challenging geological conditions,” added Glad.

“We are now in a period of optimising the operations, advancing our internal pipeline of projects and aggressively pursuing acquisition opportunities where these offer value uplift for our shareholders.”

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