Presidential Address: Coal - An Industry In Change

Rogers, M. H.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 16
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1999
Coal has been at the forefront of mankind?s drive to improve his quality of life and also for sustainable development, from the Industrial Revolution onwards. The international coal industry today is large, with some 3,7 billion tons being produced and consumed in 1997. South Africa is an important participant in the coal industry, selling some 220 million tons in 1997 of which 64 million tons were exported. It is the second-largest thermal coal exporting country in the world. Despite the size of the world coal industry, it is not immune to change. The address examines growth projections for the industry and the change drivers that will impact on it in the future. Environmental pressures, the most important of which being the climate change debate, the Kyoto Protocol arising from this debate and the development of clean coal technologies, to reduce the impact of coal production and usage on the environment are considered. Other major change drivers considered are competition from other sources of energy and that between coal producers, the deregulation of the electric power industry, corporate restructuring and for the South African producer, legislative reform. The declining (real term) coal price, the consequent squeeze on margins and the need for producers to actively contain costs is covered. Technology has, in the past, been the driver behind the growth and change of the South African coal industry and its future role in ensuring that coal is the fuel of choice for continued improvement in standards of living and economic development is addressed.
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