KwaZulu-Natal based Zululand Anthracite Colliery (ZAC) is gearing up to restart mining and processing operations at the mine.The mine has been on care and maintenance since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of the state of national disaster to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in March 2020. COVID-19 national and international lockdowns severely impacted demand volumes and prices for anthracite in 2020, which resulted in the difficult but necessary decision to place the mine on care and maintenance. However, ZAC and parent company, Menar are hopeful for a strong rebound in 2021. ZAC consists of three shafts with a fourth shaft planned to open in 2022 and at full capacity produces 1 million tonnes of anthracite per annum. It has two processing plants onsite where the product is washed to top qualities of 0.9% to 1.4% sulphur with extremely low ash content ranging from 8.5% to 18%. The product is sold to domestic and export markets. Bradley Hammond, Menar chief operating officer, who is overseeing the resumption of operations, said the mine was in the process of ramping up operations in order to meet customer supply requirements in 2021. “It has been a very challenging year for all industries; however, we are seeing a steady rebound in market conditions and ZAC is well-placed to support existing and new customers in their anthracite product supply needs on a long-term basis,” he said.
ZAC is a ‘one stop shop’ for anthracite which has all the facilities to size and blend our products according to market needs. The mine complex has sufficient capacity and access to rail for export and transport to local and international consumers. ZAC is the preferred supplier to key industrial clients in the South African and international markets. Furthermore, Hammond highlighted that the company has plans to become a bigger player in the anthracite market worldwide in the coming years through new expansion projects.“I want to thank the whole care and maintenance team for all their hard work in ensuring the mine assets were maintained and that ZAC is in the position to ramp-up to full productions in the course of the next few months. We look forward to the return of additional colleagues as we ramp-up operations,” stated Hammond. The continuance of the operation is very important for the local communities it supports. As in addition to providing jobs and contracting opportunities for community-based entrepreneurs, ZAC invests heavily in community upliftment projects. ZAC also runs education programmes, agricultural programmes, operator training initiatives, youth skills training programmes and provides bursaries, learnerships and internships to young people.