The proposed coal transport system is a private siding railway link between the Spoornet coal export railway line, from a junction eight kilometres west of Ermelo, to the existing Majuba power station rail siding and tippler.
The Department of Public Enter-prises and the board of Eskom have granted the necessary approvals for the project, which is budgeted at an estimated R1,8-billion – to be financed by Eskom.
The power utility has targeted 2010 for project completion. While the enquiry for the first phase, about 18 km of the civil and earthworks, was issued to the market on October 12 this year, other enquires are expected to follow according to the project plan.
Covering a distance of about 68,7 km, the complete Majuba transport system will include a new rail yard layout at Majuba, as well as modifications and upgrades to the existing tippler and conveyor load-out system. This will improve the infrastructure’s ability to sustain an offload rate of up to 14-million tons a year, Eskom spokesperson Fani Zulu tells Engineering News.
At present, Spoornet is railing coal to the Majuba power station from the Witbank coalfields, through Ogies and Springs, and the Johannesburg–Durban main line. Road trucks also supply coal through the existing Mpumalanga road network. The importation of coal by these means became necessary following the decommissioning of the Majuba colliery in 1993.
Eskom constructed the Palmford–Majuba rail siding as an interim measure in 1996 to supply three generating units at the Majuba power station.
The coal wagon tippler, which was also constructed in 1996 to offload the trains, is designed to accommodate small and jumbo wagons.
However, Zulu explains that rail access to supply coal to the Majuba power station from the Witbank coalfields, through Springs onto the existing Johannesburg-Durban main line, has capacity constraints.
“It is not suited to transport the full coal-burn requirements of Majuba without major modifications. “The transportation of coal through the existing provincial road network, on the other hand, does not present a viable long-term solution.” He adds that, in light of Majuba power station’s strategic positioning on the grid, it is important to improve and secure its availability to generate power by providing a coal transport system to supply all of its coal requirements. This will increase the power station’s availability potential to 90%.
The Ermelo–Majuba railway line project was developed to meet these demands. “Our objective with the project is to provide the transport infrastructure necessary to supply the full coal-burn requirements of Majuba power station for the remaining life of the power station,” concludes Zulu.