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at an estimated cost of $ 3.8 billion. Sekoko would provide the coal while its Chinese partner would provide the plant. Sekoko's other promising prospecting focus is on an area of Soutpansberg near the Zimbabwe border that has good- quality coking coal but so far only in thin seams. Johnson reckons it will be another couple of years before a decision is made on what to do there. In the meantime, there is also the prospect of mining iron ore. It's not particularly high quality, but there is an estimated 140 million tons of 40 per cent iron relatively close to the surface. A few test holes have been drilled, but further activity is on the back burner due to an internationally low interest in iron. The prospects for Sekoko and its many black African investors look promising, and members of the government will no doubt feel justified in having taken the controversial step it did seven years ago. - Editorial research by Robbie Hodgson currently going through its bureaucratic processes. One hundred bore holes have been sunk, suggesting that the coal is largely at the surface, which means an open- cast mine. However, the coal is not in seams but intermixed with rock. Thus, Johnson estimates the mine will require capital of around R1 billion ( plus or minus $ 150 million, depending on the exchange rate) to fund the excavators and 150- ton trucks needed to collect the coal- bearing rock and to build the washing plant needed to extract the coal from its accompanying shale. The current thinking within the business is that the extra cash will be sought by floating the company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. If the government continues with its plans to have independent power producers, Sekoko might be making another visit to the stock exchange for a vastly larger sum of money. Last year it was shortlisted as a potential IPP when it put forward a joint venture proposal with China Railway to build up to three 600- megawatt power stations Sekoko Resources July 09 www. bus- ex. com 57

58 www. bus- ex. com July 09