China, India, US, Australia and Indonesia make up the top . Credit: Aristocrats-hat.
The Thabametsi coal power plant will source coal from the Thabametsi mine, which is being developed by Exarro Resources. Credit: Alexander G.
The power generated by the Thabametsi coal power plant will be supplied to the national grid through the Matimba-Medupi 400kV line. Credit: Carol Mitchell.

Thabametsi coal-fired power plant is proposed to be developed near Lephalale in the Limpopo province of South Africa.

The 630MW project is being developed by Thabametsi Power Company Proprietary Limited (TPCPL), a holding company established by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and Marubeni Corporation, each with a 24.5% stake. Local business owners hold a 51% share in TPCPL.

Thabametsi coal-fired power plant is one of two new coal power projects being developed under South Africa’s Coal Baseload Independent Power Producer (IPP) programme. The two plants will add 863.3MW of electricity to the country.

The project is yet to receive water use and other approvals. Construction on the $2bn Thabametsi power plant project is expected to commence in 2018, upon receiving the approvals. It is scheduled for completion in March 2021.

Environmental concerns over Thabametsi coal-fired power project

The National Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) authorised the project in February 2015, but the Centre for Environmental Rights appealed against the project in May 2015, citing environmental concerns.

An assessment of the risks and impacts of the project on the environment was carried out. Despite the climate change, the impact rating of the project is high and flaws related to the project were not found by the Ministry of Environmental Affairs.

The Ministry of Environmental Affairs approved 630MW of the project’s proposed 1.2GW capacity in January 2018.

Thabametsi coal-fired power plant make-up

Thabametsi Power Company has obtained the rights to the project site from Exxaro Resources.

The plant will include two units with a capacity of 315MW each, which will be developed in two phases. Each unit will include a circulating fluidised bed (CFB) boiler and one steam turbine. The expected life of the plant will be 30 years.

“The plant will utilise approximately 430,000t of limestone depending upon the plant heat rate, dispatch and sulphur content of the fuel.”

The project will include the construction of a powerhouse, substation, cooling tower, cool storage, wash units, transformers and transmission lines.

It will be connected to the national transmission network via a loop-in to the Matimba-Medupi 400kV line.

Coal supply agreement

Exarro was selected as the preferred supplier of coal for 30 years on a contractual basis for the Thabametsi power plant, in 2016.

The company is expected to supply approximately 3.9 million tonnes a year of run-of-mine coal from the new Thabametsi mine planned to be developed adjacent its operating Grootegeluk mine.

The new mine and related infrastructure will be developed to the south of the Thabametsi power plant. A conveyor belt capable of delivering coal at the rate of 1,000t an hour will transport coal from the mine to the power plant. It will offload coal onto an overland conveyer belt on the Thabametsi power plant site, which will unload on to the coal stockyard.

Contractors involved with Thabametsi coal power plant

Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction has been selected as the preferred engineering procurement and construction contractor for the Thabametsi coal-fired power plant in 2017. The company won a 1.15 trillion ($1.05bn) order from Kepco-Marubeni consortium to supply key equipment for the plant, including boilers and turbines.

Afrimat is the preferred supplier of limestone for ten years on a contractual basis for the Thabametsi power plant. The contract can be extended for 30 more years optionally.

The plant will utilise approximately 430,000t of limestone depending upon the plant heat rate, dispatch and sulphur content of the fuel.

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