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JOHANNESBURG  - Australian coal mining company MC Mining said on Wednesday appeals against an amendment to an environmental authorisation for its Makhado project allowing for the transportation of coal to Musina by road rather than rail had been dismissed.

MC Mining's subsidiary Baobab Mining & Exploration is developing the hard coking and thermal coal project in Limpopo province and its nine-month Phase 1 construction period is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2019.

Last September, the national department of mineral resources and the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism approved an application by Baobab to amend the Makhado Environmental Authorisation, but this was suspended after a group of environmentalists and local farmers appealed the decision.

MC Mining chief executive David Brown said the dismissal of the appeals reinforced the robustness of Baobab's permitting processes despite continued attempts by "narrow interest groups" to halt the Makhado project's progress.

"The recently announced phased development of Makhado includes the utilization of the existing, modified Vele processing plant as well as road and rail infrastructure previously tested," Brown said. 

"The company anticipates that funding dependent, construction of Makhado Phase 1 should commence in Q3 FY2019, contributing significantly to the socio-economic development in the area and generating positive returns for shareholders in the near-term."

MC Mining has concluded a sale and purchase agreement for the export quality thermal coal to be produced by the first phase the project with an unnamed party.

Phase 1 will generate approximately three million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of run-of-mine coal from the west pit, with further processing ultimately yielding up to 0.57 Mtpa of export quality thermal coal and 0.54 Mtpa of hard coking coal. 

Construction of Phase 2, expected in 2022 is forecast to produce four Mtpa of run-of-mine coal from the east and central pits,  resulting in one Mtpa of thermal coal.

- African News Agency (ANA)