The Kolomela iron ore mine is an open-pit iron ore mine located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Previously known as the Sishen South project, the Kolomela mine has been in production since December 2011.

The Kolomela mine is owned and operated by Anglo American’s Kumba Iron Ore business unit through its subsidiary Sishen Iron Ore Company (SIOC). Anglo American has a 76.3% stake in SIOC while the remaining interest is held by black economic empowerment (BEE) shareholders including Exxaro, SIOC Community Development Trust and Envision.

The Kolomela mine produced 13.2Mt of direct shipping iron ore in 2019 compared to 13.9Mt in the previous year. The stripping ratio of the mine was optimised from 4.1 to 3.8 in 2019.

The mining right for the Kolomela mine was granted in September 2008 for a 30-year mining period. Although the original mine life was estimated to be 14 years, Anglo American is carrying out the expansion of the mine to increase the total production life to more than 20 years.

Kapstevel South project

Anglo American approved the development of the Kapstevel South pit at the Kolomela mine in July 2020.

Estimated to cost £312m (R7bn), the Kapstevel South project is intended to sustain the annual iron ore production capacity of Kolomela at 13Mt over its remaining mine life.

The Kapstevel South project, like the existing operation, will be a conventional truck and shovel operation producing high quality direct shipping ore (DSO).

The waste stripping at the new open-pit is expected to be started in 2020, while the first ore production is expected in 2024. 

Location, geology and mineralisation 

The Kolomela mine is situated approximately 12km southeast of Postmasburg and approximately 80km south of the Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The Kolomela mine site lies in the ZF Mgcawu District Municipality and the Tsantsabane Local Municipality. 

The Kolomela iron ore deposit is situated at the southern end of the same iron ore belt that hosts the Sishen mine towards the north.

The Kolomela mine comprises the Leeuwfontein, Welgevonden, Klipbankfontein, Kapestvel North and Kapstevel South open pits. Kolomela is characterised by high-grade haematite ore bodies measuring up to 2km in length, 400m in width and 300m in depth.

Ore reserves at Kolomela iron ore mine 

The proven and probable ore reserves at the Kolomela iron ore mine are estimated to be 172.4Mt grading 63.1% Fe.

The measured and indicated resources at the mine are estimated to be 150Mt grading 62.6% Fe.

Mining and ore processing at Kolomela

The conventional open pit mining method involving drill, blast, shovel and truck operation is employed at the Kolomela iron ore mine. The Leeuwfontein, Klipbankfontein and Kapstevel North ore bodies are currently being mined.

The run-of-the-mine (ROM) ore is trucked to a nearby processing facility where it undergoes three-stage crushing, screening and dense media separation for the production of direct shipping iron ore.

The final iron ore product is sent via a conveyor to a train load-out facility from where it is transported via a 36km rail line connecting the Sishen-Saldanha export line that links to the Saldanha Bay Port.

The Kolomela mine’s products are blended with the Sishen mine’s products at the Saldanha export harbour before the final shipment of the ore.

Contractors involved 

Hatch was awarded an engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM) contract worth £183m (R2.3bn) for the Kolomela mine in April 2012. The scope of the contract included the processing infrastructure as well as the train load out facility at the site. 

Rosond was awarded a multi-year drilling contract worth £108m (ZAR2bn) for both Kolomela and Sishen mines by Kumba Iron Ore in August 2019. The drilling contract for the Kolomela mine was previously awarded to Master Drilling in March 2013.

Murray & Roberts was engaged for the earthworks and civil construction works including the access roads, haul roads, and rail sidings.