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While the mining industry could typically be described as passionate, I have really felt its effect while putting the September issue of Inside Mining together.

I can proudly boast that I am the first person (from the media) to visit Universal Coal’s new Kangala project in Delmas. This project is at the height of its development phase and will deliver first coal in February next year. The enthusiasm from the Universal Kangala team is absolutely infectious. They are so passionate about this project that I cannot help but feel the same way. The contractors and subcontractors are equally as excited about it and I am looking forward to watching this company transition from junior developer to miner as Kangala comes on-line.

It is not often that an editor gets to watch a project evolve from an empty piece of land to a full-scale mining operation. My personal list of such projects is not very long, but it is growing. There is no better feeling than watching a project evolve, tracking its development and observing it come to life. It really brings you closer to the industry and its players. Next year, I will proudly add Kangala to my list.

The past month also took me past Delmas, all the way to Secunda, where I attended the South African Coal Processing Society’s biennual coal conference. It was fantastic to see all the major industry players under one roof. The presentations, although a little technical, helped me realise just how much effort is being put into ensuring the coal industry is sustainable well into the foreseeable future. Technologies, ideas, concepts and case studies were revealed and discussed at length. If such dedication and commitment to looking after a sector’s future is not described as passionate, I don’t know what is.

Certain facts are absolutely evident, South Africa needs coal to fuel its electricity needs and there are a lot of industry experts, bodies and professionals working hard to ensure that when you switch a light on at home, it gives you light. Ensuring this is a growing challenge, considering our resources are depleting and our quality is dropping. Turn to page 48 for a round-up of the conference, followed by some input from other conference attendees. Let’s share our passion I say!

Examining the coal sector holistically, South Africa is undoubtedly in a good place as we remain invested in our future. With depressed coking coal prices and a drop in demand for the product, thermal coal producers are sitting pretty. Eskom desperately needs coal and is buying it from anyone who has it on offer. What a good place to be.

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