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JOHANNESBURG - Mining investment company Menar Holding has set its sights on the ultimate prize - the Richards Bay coal terminal (RBCT) - as it embarks on a shopping spree for a 70percent stake in Kangra Coal from Madrid-listed Gas Natural Fenosa (GNF) for$28million (R392.8m).

Kangra Coal, which owns assets in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, owns a 2.3percent stake in RBCT, the world’s largest coal terminal, and has a right to export a total of 1.6million tons (m/t) of coal annually.

In 2017, the RBCT loaded a record 76.47m/t of South African mined coal in the 12 months to the end of December.

Kangra Coal’s remaining 30percent stake is owned by Izimbiwa Coal Investments. If approved, the acquisition would add to the growing portfolio of Menar Holding, which owns Anthracite Coal it acquired from mining giant Rio Tinto.

Menar Holding managing director, Vuslat Bayoglu, said on Friday that the purchase of Kangra Coal would give them a “strategic stake” at RBCT.

“We have over the years gradually increased our exports. It makes strategic sense for us to gain access to RBCT,” he said.

“It’s good for our company and it’s good for job creation. We are ready to contribute to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vision of turning mining into a sunrise industry.”

Bayoglu said the willingness by GNF, which traded as Naturgym, to sell their assets came at the right time, as his strategy to grow through acquisition as well as organically by investing in existing operations was taking shape. 

“We have the right set of skills and a proven track record to operate coal mines in challenging environments,” he said. “We have cultivated these over many years and we are confident that this acquisition is in the best interest of all stakeholders - our shareholders, workers and the government.”

The RBCT is a strategic economic hub in the country. Its 29.54percent black-owned private sector terminal loaded 3.9m/t more coal last year, a 5.1 percent increase on 2016 and a 1.4 percent improvement from the previous record of 75.38m/t recorded in 2015. 

A record 81 percent of the coal loaded at RBCT last year was exported to India, Pakistan and South Korea, while Europe accounted for 10.1percent of the exports and Africa 7.8percent.