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Glencore Xstrata to invest $100 million in South Africa’s coal sector

Young coal miners in South Africa. Photo provided by the UN.

Miner and trading house giant Glencore Xstrata (LON:GLEN) is going full-speed with its plans to boost coal production in South Africa, and said it’s poised to invest close to US$100 million in new developments expected to supply nearly 60 million tonnes a year.

In a presentation to analysts, the company —which started trading on Johannesburg’s stock exchange last week— said Monday that first production from its projects pipeline was already “being implemented,” while the balance of new production would start coming on-stream by 2015.

New projects include simple developments such as the $9.2 million Wonderfontein project, which will effectively extend the life of Umcebo, a property the company acquired in 2011.

The bulk of capital expenditure —$81 million— is going to its Tweefontein operation, in which Glencore Xstrata holds an 80% stake. According to the company, the mine would add 13.6 million tonnes of coal from the fourth quarter of 2014.

Despite the mounting issues affecting the mining industry in South Africa, from strikes to growing costs, the company’s chief executive Ivan Glasenberg has never been not afraid of betting on Africa’s largest economy. Not counting he is a native of South Africa, Glasenberg has repeatedly said the country is a great platform from where the company can tap into the rest of the continent.

Glencore Xstrata’s projects in the country include the Goedgevonden thermal-coal complex in the Mpumalanga province, the Helena underground chrome mine on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex, the Wonderkop ferrochrome plant in the North West Province and the Eland platinum mine near Pretoria.

Glencore merged this year with Xstrata – company that had strong South African links – to form one of the world’s largest commodities groups.

Image by the UN via Fickr