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Alpha Resources Tackles The Challenge Of Going Green

Despite focusing on the coal sector as its core business, Alpha Resources has recognised the need for – and begun moving towards – a more environmentally friendly approach.

As a company with a core focus on coal procurement and mining project development and services in South Africa, Alpha Resources actively acquires coal exploration rights in strategic South African coalfields. The company is also continuously identifying and assessing potential coal projects, with a view to investing in these.

Beyond leveraging its highly skilled team’s collective experience and expertise in the coal mining industry, it has established partnerships with innovative beneficiation plants. This allows the business to properly handle coal to meet industry standards, while enhancing the quality of the coal extracted, ensuring superior efficiency across an array of industries and markets.

Naturally, being a coal-focused entity, Alpha Resources has some pertinent views on the global shift towards renewable energy, according to its founder and CEO, Selim Kaymak.

“The growing focus on going green and eliminating fossil fuels from the global energy basket is obviously a hot topic of discussion among coal miners. As one of the entities in this space, Alpha Resources acknowledges the global shift and increasing growth in renewable sources, but also notes that coal remains a strong player in the global energy landscape,” he says.

Tradition vs transition

Kaymak says in 2023, coal formed around 38% of the global power generation mix, and remains the largest single source of generation capacity. Its local impact is even greater, as the South African energy sector remains predominantly coal-focused. The country’s need for affordable and reliable generation, which is crucial for economic development, continues to be unambiguously linked to coal.

“While much is happening globally in terms of energy transition, South Africa remains dependent on coal not only from the perspective of energy, but also socio-economically. Remember that there are around 90 000 people directly employed by the coal industry in the country.

“Thus, although renewable energy is the desired goal, the actual transition to this phase is a process that needs to be properly managed – and while this is happening, the use of coal and its attendant socio-economic challenges must be carefully considered.”

Historically, Kaymak explains that SA produces around 300 million tonnes of coal per annum, with some 85 million to 100 million tonnes going to the export market. He says SA coal is one of Europe’s desired coal sources, and that the country has established itself as a supplier of consistent quality to these global markets.

“However, as Europe has begun to focus on renewable energy implementation and regulation, so suppliers like Alpha Resources have had to find other markets for their products.

“Since SA coal exports are based on global market requirements, and as Europe has focused on renewables and efforts to reduce fossil fuel use, there has been a significant drop in supply to this particular market. To overcome this challenge, we have focused on market diversification.”

He says there are six or seven regions demanding SA coal, so although Europe’s demand has been reduced, there are other developing markets that still have high coal requirements. These include India, the Middle East and South East Asia, which can help to replace the shortfall from the Western market.

In these new markets, he says, coal offers reliability of energy supply, and SA’s coal is of a consistent and excellent quality.

Kutay Kuter, Alpha Resources’ general manager for SA, says new markets and new opportunities especially are the company’s route to continued success.

“For us, it is about adapting to new demands, and the requirements of these new markets, so that we can best serve these regions. Alpha Resources is always actively looking for new ventures, and remains focused on providing the best quality products to its clients, wherever in the world they are.”

The carbon challenge

Kaymak says one way to overcome the challenge of being a fossil fuel supplier in an increasingly environmentally focused world is to implement carbon credits.

“This is a key development in global trade markets, one which offers financial incentives to help organisations to reduce their greenhouse impacts, based on their emission levels. Essentially, it is about reducing our carbon footprint while still operating in the coal segment.

“There is also a strong focus on carbon capture projects, which are means by which we can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This is done by allowing businesses to invest in alternative projects that are considered green, or to undertake projects that capture carbon from the atmosphere.”

Alpha Resources makes efforts to invest in projects such as renewable energy implementations, energy efficiency improvements, and even carbon capture and storage projects – such as reforesting efforts – to offset its carbon footprint and help contribute towards climate action.

“It is essential for credible entities to develop strong regulatory frameworks, overseen by international and local authorities, to ensure the legitimacy of these operations. In order to enhance transparency, accountability and trust, it is vital to establish a framework for inclusive, green growth,” he says.

“This in turn will require closer cooperation between local and international authorities, and as more nations begin to participate effectively in this approach, so we can continue to strengthen it further.”

As a coal business, notes Kaymak, the company will have to focus and strategise short-, medium- and long-term plans around this. Alpha understands that as a fossil fuel business, the company is under the spotlight in terms of what it does.

“To this end, we need to redesign the future of the organisation – here we have the advantage of being a business that sits under the mining banner, but also falls within the energy sector.

“Therefore, while we remain focused on maintaining our coal presence, we are also looking into other markets, such as mining the various base metals and battery commodities associated with the renewables sector.

“Furthermore, on the energy side, we are looking at a variety of renewable energy investments. These will potentially be in the solar space, although we are also considering independent power producer-type investments.”

He points out that the world is changing rapidly, and that traditional business practices also have to evolve. Since coal mining is a traditional business, it too has to evolve to deal with changing technologies and increasing environmental concerns. He feels that Alpha needs to be more innovative, in order to maintain and sustain its business, while at the same time expanding into new areas of diversification.

“From an operations perspective, we remain a responsible mining house that consistently works to be top of its game. This means building efficiency into our operations, while at the same time trying to limit our environmental impact, by investigating any innovation we can adapt into our business model to reduce this.

“Alpha Resources takes these environmental concerns seriously, to the extent that we understand the importance of diversifying into greener industries. This is a future that is closer than we think, which is why we are determined to drive a strong focus on the green energy sector – via renewable investments and carbon capture solutions – in order to ensure our business remains strong, through all the industry vagaries, well into the future,” says Kaymak.

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