South Africa produces significant quantities of thermal coal but has a very limited domestic supply of high-quality coking (metallurgical) coal and currently imports all of its hard coking coal requirements. Once developed, the Makhado Project will be the only significant hard coking coal mine in South Africa and will produce both hard coking coal as well as export quality thermal coal.
Hard coking coal is a highly specialised coal with particular chemical and metallurgical properties required for industrial purposes with Australia, USA and Canada dominating metallurgical coal markets. The primary use of hard coking coal is to produce coke which is utilised as a reductant in steel production. To achieve this, coking coal is baked in an oven without oxygen where the coal becomes ‘plastic’ before re-solidifying into coke particles. Coke strength indices are key characteristics in the formation of coke particles and, as a result coking coals with these properties are in demand globally. Makhado’s hard coking coal has been independently tested, confirming its good coking indices and MC Mining is negotiating off-take agreements for this coal.