South Africa’s indigenous energy resource base is dominated by coal. Internationally, coal is the most widely used primary fuel, accounting for about 36 percent of the total fuel consumption of the world’s electricity production. About 77 percent of South Africa’s primary energy needs are provided by coal. This is unlikely to change significantly in the next two decades owing to the relative lack of suitable alternatives to coal as an energy source. Many of the deposits can be exploited at extremely favourable costs and, as a result, a large coal-mining industry has developed.
In addition to the extensive use of coal in the domestic economy, about 28 percent of South Africa’s production is exported, mainly through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal, making South Africa the fourth-largest coal exporting country in the world.
South Africa’s coal is obtained from collieries that range from among the largest in the world to small-scale producers. As a result of new entrants, operating collieries increased to 64 during 2004. Of these, a relatively small number of large-scale producers supply coal primarily to electricity and synthetic fuel producers.[Source: http://www.energy.gov.za/files/coal_overview.html]