South Africa’s coal resources are contained in the Ecca deposits, a stratum of the Karoo Supergroup, and date from the Permian period between 280 and 250 Ma. At current rates of production, South Africa has reserves sufficient to satisfy its needs for more than a century. In general, South African coal has a comparatively medium ash content, which can be reduced by washing before sale. Coal mining’s advent in South Africa can best be traced to the start of gold mining in the late 19th century.
For many years, the coal sector remained in local private hands – largely those of the old mining houses. But, particularly during the oil crises of the 1970s, foreign oil companies vied for coal resources and established new collieries destined specially to serve export markets. Following the democratic election of 1994, ownership was transferred increasingly into the hands of historically disadvantaged South Africans, in many cases exceeding the 26% black-ownership level specified by the Mining Charter for 2014.1
Steyn, Lisa. n.d. “Good Times Expected to Roll on for SA Coal Companies as Supply Crunch Persists.” Fin24. Accessed April 21, 2022. https://www.news24.com/fin24/companies/mining/good-times-expected-to-roll-on-for-sa-coal-companies-as-supply-crunch-persists-20220416.
“Coal - Minerals Council South Africa.” n.d. Accessed March 20, 2022. https://www.mineralscouncil.org.za/sa-mining/coal.