The first ship has already been loaded for delivery to Ukraine, which has found itself in an energy-pinch since fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine. The Donbass area supplies 90 percent of the country’s coal, but many mines have been closed due to the Ukrainian army’s action against anti-government forces in the region. Supply networks have also been disrupted. Currently only 35 mines are operating in the Donbass, according to trade union sources.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said Ukraine has only 1.7 million tons of coal in storage, and the annual demand is 50 million tons.
“The government has already signed an agreement for the supply of 1 million tons of coal from South Africa,” Prime Minister Yatsenyuk said at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.