Universal Coal, a thermal and coking coal exploration and development company, has announced that the production operations at its A46.8m Kangala mine, located in the Witbank Coalfield, South Africa, will commence in February 2014, two months ahead of schedule.

The company has already secured domestic sales of 2 million tons per annum to ESKOM and export allocation via Richards Bay Coal Terminal for Kangala, which is set to be the company’s first operational mine.

Kangala will deliver nearly 2.1-million tons a year of thermal coal, during an initial mine life of eight years. The additional resource base potentially allows the company to expand this period to 20 years.

Universal Coal has secured all funding for the project, and is looking to achieve financial close of Kangala’s finance facility by 19 June.

The company said that it will then be in a position to draw down the ZAR300m ($30m) facility, within the next month, with further drawdowns on a regular basis, as required over the capital development program.

Universal is also in the process of concluding an off-take agreement for higher quality thermal product by the end of June 2013.