South Africa's coal mining industry is on the brink of permanent decline as the country's main export markets prepare to reduce reliance on the erstwhile 'black gold' and global divestment from fossil fuels increases at an exponential rate.
A report on the export outlook for South African coal published today by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), a respected international energy think-tank, warns that new energy technologies will replace coal-fired power faster than most predict.
Eskom and Sasol, which together take nearly two thirds of the 250 million tonnes of coal produced by South African mines each year, are planning to curb their use of the fossil fuel.
And there are signs that major coal importers like India, Pakistan and South Korea - which together take more than half of South Africa's coal exports - are either transitioning away from coal or have limited growth potential. As the overall market shrinks, South Africa is expected to face increased competition from other coal exporters such as Indonesia, Australia and Russia.
"South African coal exporters are likely to seek alternative markets going forward as opportunities for growth in the main export destinations dry up. However, the long-term outlook for...