Investments in clean coal could save South Africa's coal sector

31 January 2020 Consultancy.co.za

Despite global claims that the coal economy is fading away, coal remains a central part of South Africa’s economy, and is likely to grow in significance if clean coal technologies increasingly come into play. This is according to Senior Coal Analyst at XMP Consulting Xavier Prévost.

As the world gravitates towards sustainable forms of energy, many have written off the coal industry, arguing that its relevance is only likely to deteriorate. For South Africa’s mining intensive economy, such a trend spells particular gloom, given that coal is among the steadiest revenue generators for the country.

highlights that the significance of coal as a commodity stretches further. Coal mining and its affiliated sectors, according to Prévost, are home to well over 700,000 jobs in South Africa. Given South Africa’s unemployment numbers, a decline in the sector would spell further disaster.

“Coal is the mainstay of our economy. If mines, for example, were to be closed, or become unproductive, many jobs would be lost, increasing unemployment and poverty. Coal supplies 95% of electricity consumed by the country. Electricity from coal is still the cheapest in the world,” said Prévost.

Investments in clean coal could save South Africa's coal sector

Nevertheless, Prévost has a message of hope for the sector, provided that the right measures are taken. He has previously indicated that coal reserves in South Africa are rapidly being depleted, and that the investment in exploration to sustain the sector is lacking in the country.

He maintains this position, further indicating that the investments must be channeled into clean coal technology (CCT). Much like the rest of the world, South Africa is also turning to sustainability as a principle to underpin any further economic growth, and CCT is a core component of that. Provided these conditions are met, Prévost’s outlook is rosy.

“Contrary to the idea that ‘coal is dead’, South African reserves and resources are abundant and can provide low-emitting, cost-effective, reliable and sustainable power well into the future, using Clean Coal technologies,” he said.

Prévost is a Senior Coal Analyst at XMP Consulting, a South African mining consultancy that supports the country’s coal sector with a range of functions. The firm’s team of geologists, mining and coal processing engineers, analysts and others support mining companies with exploration, research and logistics.


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