The feasibility study and scientific research on coal mining, which is taking place in six Chris Hani district towns, could produce millions in economic spin-offs.
The study, which is being conducted by Geosites, an entity of the department of mineral resources and energy, will target Cacadu, Cala, Ngcobo, Sterkstroom, Molteno and Jamestown which were found to have coal deposits.
Chris Hani Development Agency acting CEO, Zolile Duze, said: “This could change the entire economy of the district and produce economic benefits to the rural communities.
“The report will also stipulate the type of private investors we should attract to partner with the people.”
He said the research process in the coal belt of the aforementioned areas was expected to take 12 months.
Duze said: “There is a steering committee which has been appointed to give reports about the findings.
“The study will confirm the amount of coal available per area and how deep it is beneath the ground.
“The study will determine the grading quality of the coal and what it will be suitable for, because certain types of coal can be used to produce diesel or to supply Eskom to generate electricity.”
He said the only places the district knew to have the mineral resource were Indwe and Cacadu.
The research follows after it was discovered that rural brickmakers who were trying to make a living in the areas had dug out coal to burn their bricks.
Duze said after these discoveries were made, more people came forward with information on where the coal was found in the rest of the area.
“When the people confirmed where they got the coal from, it was a reflection that mining was already taking place. However, it was not occurring at a commercial level. The study will also lead us to where the mining shafts should be located.”
He said that social facilitation was critical to avoid what happened in Xolobeni on the Wild Coast as the residents there failed to understand and accept the development concept.
Xolobeni residents were in fierce dispute over the potential mining of the titanium-rich dunes by an Australian company, Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources.
Duze said the communities were excited by the news, but they wanted to be on board to understand what the development entailed in terms of job opportunities along with Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources. They were concerned about displacement from their homes and environmental degradation.
“This will include negotiations where mines will be expected to invest back into the infrastructure development of the people.”