OREANDA-NEWS. June 14, 2012. Today Sasol officially inaugurated its R3,5 billion Thubelisha Shaft at the Twistdraai Colliery in Mpumalanga. The shaft, situated in the north-east of the Secunda complex, will supply coal to Sasol Synfuels, the export and domestic market.  The current Twistdraai Colliery shaft system has reached its economic limit and requires relocation of the shafts to the Thubelisha shaft. The new shaft will extend the life of the Twistdraai Colliery beyond 2039.

Sasol Mining, the sole supplier of coal to Sasol Synfuels, entered the coal export market in 1995 with the establishment of Twistdraai East and West, together with the Twistdraai Export Plant, to beneficiate and supply coal to the export market. Sasol Mining operates one of the world’s largest underground coal-mining complexes and produces over 40 million tons of coal annually with more than 90% of the coal mined being beneficiated by Sasol to produce high-quality synthetic fuels and a wide range of chemicals.

“Our mining business is not only the foundation of Sasol’s South African operations, it is also a key component to ensure the country’s energy security and is a vital contributor to the country’s growth and development goals,” said David Constable, Chief Executive Officer, Sasol Limited.

The project will sustain 1600 jobs at the Twistdraai Colliery and at the peak of construction more than 2000 workers were on site. The bulk of the workforce was drawn from local communities in the Gert Sibande District Municipality.

“Sasol Mining has entered a period of intense capital replacement and will replace 60% of our operating capacity in Secunda in the next eight years. This capital replacement comes at a total cost of R14 billion. The Thubelisha shaft is the first milestone in this large scale project,” said Hermann Wenhold, Managing Director, Sasol Mining.

Thubelisha will comprise an operation delivering more than 8 million tons per annum (mtpa) over a lifespan of 25 years, from a maximum of 12 coal production sections. The shaft consists of surface buildings, coal conveyance infrastructure, workshops and a full shaft system.

“Sasol Mining, in the recent past, has seen great improvements in its safety performance, following the implementation of a comprehensive safety improvement plan. I am pleased by these successes, but fully realize that we require a consistent and unrelenting focus on safety to sustain these achievements,” added Constable.

The total conveyor belt length is approximately 20 km, making it one of the longest conveyors in the country. The shaft will have an underground and surface infrastructure to support 12 production sections and an underground and surface coal handling facility. Once the shaft is fully operational, 1600 employees will be deployed to the shaft.