Resgen’s South African subsidiary, Lejaja Coal, will operate Bokamoso Mine in Steenbokpan, about 58km from Lephalale, near Thabazimbi, in Limpopo.
Lephalale executive mayor Moloko Maeko and Thomas Tau, Resgen’s regulatory compliance manager, told Lephalale residents this week that the development of Bokamoso Mine would be like no other in the country.
Maeko says the council was locked in negotiations with Resgen and “demanded that local businesses and the community be given the first opportunities in building and developing the mine, and that workers be paid a living wage”.
“Only after local businesses have been tried can outside companies be considered. The same will apply to employment opportunities. Resgen has agreed to investigate the skills pool in our jurisdiction and provide whatever skills gap may be found,” says Maeko.
Tau told residents that the first infrastructure project to be built would be a sewer plant in Marapong township in anticipation of the projected growth of the town.
“The growth of Lephalale is presently hampered by the lack of bulk infrastructure. We believe the sewer plant and the 58km road linking it to Steenbokpan will help release the full potential of the town’s development,” says Tau.
Tau says Resgen will pay Transnet to construct a 38km railway line linking Steenbokpan with Lephalale town. The line will be used mainly to transport coal from the Bokamoso Mine to ports such as Richards Bay and to Mpumalanga’s power stations.
Tau also says Resgen will train and prepare local youth with the skills needed to run the mine.
“We don’t want the youth competing with adults for low-skill jobs. They must acquire higher skills which will be needed to run the mine well into the future.
“We are collaborating with the Lephalale FET College and other training institutions to support the youth to acquire skills which will be needed in 2015 when mining activities begin.
“We want our youth to run the mine for the projected 90 years of its life. In May we will begin constructing the mine.
” The first coal production is expected to take place in 2015,” says Tau.
Maeko says the town is undergoing change not only in shape and size, but in character as well.
He says Lephalale has abundant coal of a high quality and that three other mining houses will soon descend on the town to extract the mineral resource to fire electricity for power stations in the country and abroad.
The town’s rapid change began with the building of the fourth largest power station in the world, Medupi. Construction, though, has been disrupted by strike action which has brought work to a standstill for nearly three months.