Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|August 10, 2022|6 Minutes|In Billionaire Today

Billionaire Today

Climate change? We will burn  coal for 100 years!

On the day the US Senate put up billions for climate control  from electric cars to cutting carbon  one of the billionaire kings of African mining said whatever happens theres going to be another century of dear dirty coal.      

Africa and the United States. Two parts of the world with different views on the future of coal- clearly.

While senators were wittering about their $430 billion climate change plans, on Capitol Hill in Washington,  aimed at everything from green energy to electric cars and carbon emission cutting, one of the Kings of African coal was questioning this a.

South African Mining magnate Tim Tebeila made his billion Rand fortune from coal – with its filthy carbon emissions -and wants to see it thrive for at least another century.

“This country will still depend on coal for the next 100 years, or more. There is just no way it will spend on other power that is not sustainable,” Tebeila told Billionaire Tomorrow on the day of the great vote in Washington on August 8.

“We have got a lot of coal, billions and billions of tonnes.”

South Africa is the biggest polluter in Africa with a score of smoke-belching coal-fired power stations still producing more than 70 percent of the country’s energy. They should have been pensioned off years ago, but South Africa’s power grid struggles to leave the economy plagued by power cuts. It means the country has little choice, but to hang on to coal for now; burning its way through more than 200 million tonnes every year.

The rising cost of energy has also increased the value of South African coal. According to a report by the World Bank, the price of South African coal has more than doubled to more than $300 in less than a year, largely due to the war in Ukraine.

“Since the war in Ukraine and Russia it has caused this kind of demand. Because gas is no longer flowing in Europe demand is quite a lot across the globe. Everyone is short of coal. It is not only power stations; a lot of industries use coal. People can’t live without coal that is why the price has skyrocketed “

Tebeila – who made his name in the coal game – is well invested in the future of the industry. He has a coal washing plant in Mpumalanga and mines on eight properties, covering 11,000 hectares, with five billion tonnes in reserves in the Waterberg. It is the fruit of a chance he took more than 20 years ago to develop a coal project near his hometown not too far from the Waterberg in the country’s northern Limpopo province.

The mining magnate believes the stubbornness of the coal mining industry could give rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs.

“I can tell you I have met and they are saying against all odds we are going to succeed. They are coming up. With the unlocking of the power stations and with the unlocking of the energy plans we will see millions and millions of entrepreneurs coming to the party. What is needed is for our country to be stable politically. We don’t want to be in a place where there is doubt”

“Entrepreneurs are getting into the coal space as we speak, they are seeing coal as an asset.

This coal boom should last for two or three years so It can create a lot of entrepreneurs, they have seen the demand and are coming in numbers.”

Yet it may prove difficult in the future. A number of banks and institutions in South Africa have said they will no longer invest in coal assets in the interests of curtailing carbon emissions. Unsurprisingly, Tebelia dismissed this threat.

“The banks have said a long time ago that they don’t want to finance coal. It is a very funny environment because as we speak now, more than 50 percent of the capital in the bank is from the coal mines. So you are saying I have a big pile of coal money and I don’t want to finance any coal project? There are billions and billions of dollars that are going to come out of coal and that is going to the banks. – so what kind of thinking is this?”

“So the banks will end up saying we are going to finance you, but please don’t tell anybody about it. They are going to end up doing that.”

Loans on the down low for coal, as many young entrepreneurs would say. Tebeila thinks it is possible – I wonder whether the shareholders would agree?