Recent developments at Universal Coal’s metallurgical coal projects in the north of South Africa will see the company position itself as a metallurgical and thermal coal producer, according to Universal’s chairman, Tony Harwood. Harwood told mining journalists at a recent media briefing in Johannesburg that, after the successful ASX IPO listing of the company in December 2010, which was based on a number of attractive near-term thermal coal production assets, the metallurgical coal projects also held by the company were likely to be the catalyst for substantial and increasing investor interest during 2012.
Universal’s two early-stage metallurgical coal exploration projects in South Africa’s Limpopo province are set to be a major focus for the company in 2012, although its thermal projects are at a more advanced stage of development. Harwood said that the Berenice/Cygnus metallurgical coal project in particular is already attracting interest. The project has a gross in situ resource of 1.3 billion t declared from the first phase of drilling. A second phase of drilling, to prove-up the resource further, is scheduled to begin in early 2012. A scoping study is already underway.
Despite the potential of the new metallurgical coal projects, the company also remains committed to developing a profitable business and strong returns for shareholders at its near-term production thermal coal projects in the heart of the Witbank coalfield. These three projects have a total of 294 million t of resource of export and domestic coal.
Harwood says his goal in 2012 is to achieve market recognition of the potential of the thermal coal projects to provide a robust and profitable platform for growth, and to fully exploit the potential of the metallurgical coal assets that are set to redefine Universal’s business and its increasing appeal to investors.
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