London: India’s Jindal Steel & Power, part of the Jindal Group, has bought the Kiepersol thermal coal mine in South Africa, industry sources said on Friday.
The deal marked the first completed purchase of a coal mine in South Africa by an Indian entity, they said.
State and privately-owned Indian companies have been seeking South African coal assets for the past several years because local supplies can’t meet booming demand. These include Indian trading companies, steel makers and even state coal producer Coal of India.
“The deal was finalised very recently. They’ve all been looking hard for several years but I don’t know of another example where a deal has gone through,” one source said.
Kiepersol is a mothballed, underground mine which produces mid-low volatile content thermal coal used mostly for power generation, the sources said.
The mine was sold by a group of private shareholders to Jindal for an undisclosed price. The mine was originally developed by Duiker, which sold its mines to Xstrata.
Kiepersol is in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga. The 12-16% volatile content coal is likely to be exported via the Richards Bay Dry Bulk Terminal because there is no stockpile space for that quality of coal at Richards Bay Coal Terminal.
Jindal is expected to use the coal for power generation rather than a metallurgical application. The energy content of the coal is comparable to standard South African RB1 coal but the volatile range is lower.
Some power plants such as those in Spain and parts of the UK are designed to take low-vol coal or anthracite but the majority of plants around the world would need to blend this type of coal with a higher-vol material, the sources said.
The difference between anthracite and thermal coal is not clearly defined. Coal tends to be classified as anthracite if its volatile content is below a certain level.
The deal was completed and payment made in June, they said.
There are four parts of the Jindal group which manufacture different types of steel and steel products. At least three of these subsidiaries have been looking for iron ore and coal mines to buy in South Africa, Indonesia, Australia and Latin America.
JSW Steel, one of the Jindal subsidiaries, has been discussing thermal coal long-term supply agreements with South African coal producers this month but has not yet signed any deals.