From November 2015 Royal HaskoningDHV mining consultants were commissioned by Lephalale Coal Mines Ltd (Masimong Minerals Group) to conduct a pre-feasibility study for the Lephalale Coal and Power Project, located in the Waterberg coalfield of Limpopo Province, Republic of South Africa.

Site of Lephalale coal and power project | Royal HaskoningDHV

Image: Site of Lephalale coal and power project

The Challenge

Considering South Africa’s growing electricity requirements and the importance placed on Waterberg coal prospects to fulfil these, the Lephalale Coal and Power Project has substantial potential as a major future source of power in the region. The purpose of the pre-feasibility study was to evaluate all possible coal mining scenarios for the deposit in order to maximise the future value. The study required a technical and commercial assessment of the resources feasibility to power a captive independent power plant as well as potentially provide a domestic power supply and/or export coal.

The Solution

Royal HaskoningDHV conducted an options study to identify the optimum go forward case for the project which comprised assessment of key technical aspects; the coal deposit structure and seam quality, extractability, proximity to infrastructure, amenities and potential markets.

The geological team initially undertook a large-scale reinterpretation of data to ensure compatibility of borehole information across the deposit. This involved extensive re-correlation of coal zones and samples from original geophysical information, which was aided by the use of the group’s internal WellCAD™ software. A geological model was subsequently constructed using Vulcan™ modelling software. Royal HaskoningDHV reported a Coal Resource under JORC 2012 which formed the basis for application of Modifying Factors for Reserve Estimation. This has supported subsequent mining optimisation, mine design, and equipment scheduling.

The Outcome

As of September 2016, Royal HaskoningDHV completed the pre-feasibility study for the Lephalale Coal & Power Project, concluding the project to be technically and financially viable. The project is estimated to produce approximately 6 million tonnes per annum of run-of-mine coal over a total mine life of over 35 years. The majority of the coal will be used to supply a captive independent power plant and at full production the mine is expected to employ over 400 people, sourced from the local Lephalale Municipality. The Waterberg coalfield, remaining largely unexploited by commercial operations, is viewed as a critical future source of thermal coal in South Africa which continues to face a national power deficit.

Testimonial from Mr. Doug Gain, CEO Masimong Group

“We appointed Royal HaskoningDHV due to their reputation as a major international mining consultant, and for their expertise in feasibility studies and, specifically, Karoo coal projects. We found their understanding of the relevance of project risk, openness to provide sound technical advice, and exacting standard of professionalism extremely refreshing and consider their approach to be night and day relative to the more traditional philosophy. The team clearly take pride in the delivery of their work and the final pre-feasibility study deliverable will help us to continue to develop the project going forwards.”