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|South Africa is the third-largest supplier of coal on the world's export markets after Australia and the USA, and the second-largest supplier of bituminous steam coal following Australia. There are many Similarities between the coal industries of South Africa and those of Australia and the USA, in contrast to the coal industries in Europe. For South Africa to maintain a competitive position on the export markets, it must continue to compete against these two countries. It is therefore important that the performance of the loca1 coal industry should against that of the Australian and US coal industries. Although financial performance is the major criterion, financial information is not easily obtained, and the paper therefore uses employee productivity in the form of tonnes per man year as a means of comparison. The paper reviews recent trends in the level of production and numbers of employees prior to review1ng the productivity. The influence on productivity of some mining methods is highlighted. It is realized that published information (information available within the public domain) can contain anomalies, but every effort is made to compare data of a similar type. Notwithstanding possible inaccuracies, it is shown that South African coal-De productivity lags far behind that of Australia and the USA. The significance of the difference is that the South African coal industry is able to apply overseas practices and procedures that have been shown to give improved performance, and that the increased use of more productive extraction techniques has limited application.|