Coal fines to pellets moving ahead in South Africa

CoalTech, an engineering company focussing on environmental solutions for the mining industry, has announced “a proven technology” to convert coal fines into coal pellets and finally exploit a non-utilised by-product of the coal industry, waste piles of which it estimates to be reaching around 30 billion tonnes globally. A CoalTech industrial plant in South Africa is set to produce 10,000 t of coal pellets per month, which have been thoroughly tested over the past three years and verified to meet industry requirements by Bureau Veritas.

Given the country’s position as dominant coal supplier in the region and large amounts of accessible coal waste, South Africa represents the first market to operate the CoalTech pelletising technology. The approximately 2.4 billion tonnes of existing coal fines in South Africa could potentially generate 4,600 terawatt hours of electricity (Tw/h). This represents three times more than Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy demand of 1,300 Tw/h as forecasted for 2040.

CoalTech says the technology will enhance the productivity of mines by up to 20% and secure higher returns on investment. “With mine operators rebalancing their investments to get more out of their existing assets, CoalTech’s technology is a game changer, said Filippo Fantechi, Chaiman of CoalTech. We can help them maximise mine output through re-use of their by-products, generate energy more efficiently and cost-effectively, and address the global waste management challenges.” It also has the potential to eliminate the storage and operational costs of coal waste lagoons, and reduce the restoration costs and rehabilitation of slurry lagoons at end of mine life.