Middelburg mine

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The Middelburg mine is majority owned by BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton. The open cut mine is located approximately 20 kilometres south of Middelburg in Mpumalanga Province and produces what the company describes as "a medium rank bituminous thermal coal, most of which can be beneficiated for the European or Asian export market." The mine was commissioned in 1982.[1]

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On its website BHP Billiton states that "Middelburg Mine Services is the largest producer in the BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa group ... The principal products are power station grade coal for Eskom’s nearby Duvha power station and higher quality export grade products for the seaborne steam coal markets."[2] Export coal is transported to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal while coal for the Duvha Power Station is delivered by a conveyor belt.[1]

Ownership and titles

BHP Biliton owns 84% of the Middelburg mine in a joint venture with the remaining 16% owned by Xstrata via Tavistock Collieries Plc.[1]

In its 2009 annual report BHP Billiton states that "BECSA and Tavistock are the joint holders of three Old Order Mining Rights in the joint venture ratio (84:16) and BECSA is the 100% holder of a fourth Old Order Mining Right. All four Old Order Rights were lodged for conversion in December 2008. BECSA and Tavistock have amended their joint venture agreement such that, upon conversion of the four Old Order Mining Rights, the mining area will be divided into an area wholly-owned and operated by Tavistock and an area wholly-owned and operated by BECSA as the new Middelburg mine. A number of regulatory approvals are being sought to give effect to this restructure."[1]

Mine works and plans

In an October 2007 conference presentation, BHP Billiton included a map of the proposed mining area for the Douglas-Middelburg area.

Source: BHP Billiton

(Full size image here)

The presentation also stated that in an average year the Middelburg mine:[3]

  • resulted in the removal of 6 million cubic metres of topsoil;
  • used 65.5 million kilograms of explosives;
  • resulted in 2.5 million metres of drilling
  • resulted in 125 million cubic metres of overburden removed;
  • for an annual run of mine coal production of 23 million tonnes.
  • 339 hecatres of disturbed land requiring rehabilitation.

Mine redevelopment

The Douglas-Middelburg Optimisation Project is a mine rationalisation project being undertaken by BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa.

In its 2009 annual report BHP Billiton states:

"this project involves works to optimise the development of existing reserves across the Douglas and Middelburg collieries, the development of additional mining areas and the construction of a new 14 million tonnes per annum coal processing plant, which will replace the less efficient existing plant at Douglas. The work will enable us to maintain energy coal exports from the combined Douglas and Middelburg colliery at around current levels (approximately 10 million tonnes per annum) while also fulfilling our domestic contractual commitments. The expected capital investment is US$975 million and the new plant is scheduled to receive its first coal in mid CY2010."[4]

In an April 2010 report on its exploration and development projects, BHP Billiton stated that the optimisation project was "on schedule and budget. The overall project is 96% complete."[5]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 BHP Billiton, 2009 BHP Billiton Annual Report, BHP Billiton, September 2009.
  2. BHP Billiton, "BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa", BHP Billiton website, accessed June 2010.
  3. BHP Billiton, "Mission Directed Work Teams", International Show and Tell conference, October 25, 2007, page3 13-15.
  4. BHP Billiton, 2009 BHP Billiton Annual Report, BHP Billiton, September 2009, page 49.
  5. BHP Billiton, "BHP Billiton Exploration and Development Report for the Quarter Ended 31 March 2010", April 21, 2010, page 2.

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