News Nov 29, 2015 09:48 PM EST

Gazprom to start coal gasification at South Africa mine project

By Staff Writer

Gazprom Promgaz, a unit of Russian gas producer Gazprom PJSC, has decided to entrust the sole distribution rights on coal gasification technology in sub-Saharan Africa to Anglo-African Capital Ltd.

Gazprom Promgaz and Anglo-African Capital will develop the technology-based methods at a mine in South Africa, which is facing a major challenge on fast depleting coal reserves. Many electricity generating stations in the country are ageing as well.

Gazprom Promgaz is working with Johannesburg-based mining company using underground coal gasification technology in sub-Saharan Africa for developing the technology at a South African mine.

Bloomberg's latest report states that Gazprom will provide its technology to the South African mining company on the pre-feasibility study for the Sprintbok Flats coal project in the northern Limpopo province, according to a statement from Anglo-African Capital Ltd.

According to Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd, South Africa's power utility, coal is the major resource for electricity generation in South Africa. Coal accounts for 80 percent of electricity generation. South Africa is the most industrialized economy in the African continent. 

South Africa is facing a major challenge as coal quality to support aging power station infrastructure is decreasing on account of depleting higher grade and mineable reserves.

"Underground coal gasification technology can address this challenge and offers to deeper coal resources, which are unviable for mining operations," explains Van Dyk, Technology Manager at UCG-focused South African company African Carbon Energy (Africary), and Secretary of SAUCGA (the South African Underground Coal Gasification Association) in an interview with Mining Review.

Coal gasification was explored previously in South Africa. Sasol worked on gasification of coal  during 1955-2000 in Sasolburg. It also started producing liquid fuels in Secunda from 1974 onwards. Eskom also explored underground coal gasification project at Mjuba power station and it's been operational since 2007.

Anglo African further said in a statement that "Gazprom is spending large amounts of money on research and development of the technology and is a world leader in underground coal gasification."

The underground coal gasification technology improves on the conventional method of electricity generation. The process enables energy potential of deep coal seams, which would otherwise go unmined. It is more eco-friendly as it requires no massive open cast pits, shafts, stockpiles, ash dumps and coal trucks. 

The underground coal gasification technology is expected to double the recoverable coal reserves for the South African coal industry. The clean coal technology is expected to transform the coal mining and electricity generation in South Africa.

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