On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. vol.110 n.7 Johannesburg Jul. 2010
G.J. de Korte
CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa
South Africa is reliant on coal for the generation of almost all the electricity used in the country, and several large industrial concerns such as Sasol are also coal based. Research relating to the mining, beneficiation and utilization of coal is important in order to ensure the optimal exploitation and use of coal within the country. The Fuel Research Institute (FRI) of South Africa was established in 1930 to investigate all aspects of coal beneficiation and utilization in South Africa. The FRI went on to conduct world-class research, and in 1957 a pilot coal preparation plant was constructed in Pretoria to enable large-scale practical experimentation. The pilot plant played a pivotal role in the establishment of South Africa's low ash coal export project.
Political and economic factors contributed to the eventual closure of the FRI and South Africa experienced a period of about 10 years between 1990 and 1999 during which very little public coal preparation research was done. This changed for the better towards the end of 1999 when Coaltech 2020, a collaborative research program was established. Participants included the CSIR, universities, the government and the major coal producers. Coal preparation research conducted under Coaltech thus far include dewatering and drying of fine coal, size classification of ultra-fine coal and dense-medium fine coal beneficiation. Currently, the Coaltech focus is on the beneficiation of low-grade coal reserves and is investigating existing as well as new techniques that can be utilized to provide cost-effective beneficiation of low-grade raw coals and reject coals.
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