Sasol, the South African petrochemicals giant, says it has embarked on a business-wide assessment of its safe working practices, in response to recent tragic safety incidents in its mining business.
Three people died in an underground water reservoir incident at the company’s Bosjesspruit mine. There was a high wall failure at the Syferfontein mine as well as a fire at the Shondoni mine (no fatalities), all between November 1 and December 7, 2021.
The incidents severely impacted Sasol’s Synfuels Operations in Secunda, a coal-mining town located 130 kilometres east of Johannesburg.
They also resulted in more than 1Million tons of lost coal production and contributed to over 50% of Sasol’s coal production shortfall.
Sasol’s Secunda Operations (SO) operates the world’s only commercial coal-based synthetic fuels manufacturing facility, producing synthesis gas (syngas) through coal gasification and natural gas reforming.
Although “our efforts to improve Secunda Operations’ stability have yielded some positive results, our Mining business improvement efforts have not met our own targets. It is disappointing for all of us who
have been working tirelessly at repositioning the company for a sustainable future, as well as
pursuing the improvement benefits of Sasol 2.0”, the company says in an update.
“Due to the lower-than-expected coal availability and coal quality, we have reduced SO production
rates until such time that our mining productivity rates increase and we have rebuilt our coal
stockpile to well above our threshold requirements. We are committed to gradually lifting production
rates as coal availability improves, while carefully monitoring the supply and demand balance.
We will also supplement our production shortfall by purchasing coal on the open market. It is not
possible to determine the shortfall at this point.
As a consequence, Sasol says it has revised its forecast SO production volumes to 6,7 – 6,8Million tons
for the financial year 2022. “Based on actual performance and our coal purchase strategy, we expect
Mining operations to achieve an average productivity rate of between 950 to 1 040 t/cm/s for
the financial year 2022”, the company explains.
“Our first objective is to ensure that we restore the integrity of the stockpile to a level of above ~1,2
Million tons by the end of quarter 1 of the calendar year 2022. Following this, we plan to gradually
increase the pure gas loads through increased coal supply to SO in an effort to improve the run-
rate. We are targeting a stockpile level of ~1,5Million tons and will further improve the gas loads
for SO by quarter 2 of the calendar year 2022. Improving the coal quality will take some time and we
will update the market of our progress during the following months”.
“As of 13 December 2021, the operational instabilities at SO have been largely resolved. We have
seen significant improvements with gasifier and boiler availability in the Synfuels facility over the
past three months”.