Mining of the Waterberg - a Unique Deposit Requiring Innovative Solutions


  • Chabedi Kelello Department School of Mining Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • Mhlongo Sifiso Exxaro Grootegeluk Coal Mine, Lephalale Limpopo



Waterberg coalfield, Grootegeluk, open pit, spontaneous combustion, coal


The Waterberg coalfield is a resource for the future contribution of energy in South Africa and has been marginally exploited to date. The coal deposit is technically unique and challenging. The carbonaceous nature of the overburden, interburden, the coal intercalations and discard makes it prone to spontaneous combustion. The coal has a high percentage of ash and low yields after beneficiation. Another unique feature of this coalfield is that it is a multi-seam coal deposit with a total of 13 benches occurring over a total thickness of 110m. Only one large open pit mine is currently in operation at the Grootegeluk Colliery despite the size of the resource. The mine has innovatively exploited the coal deposit profitability despite these challenges. Grootegeluk Colliery produces about 86 million tonnes ex-pit. The ROM produced in 2015 was about 54 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) and the total waste produced was about 32 Mtpa making it one of the largest open pits in the history of South Africa. The paper discusses the state of the current mining and beneficiation techniques being used at the mine to exploit this vast reserve of the Waterberg coalfield which is the future coal supply of South Africa.