SA miners plan to supply 609MW of independent power provided regulations allow

THE South African mining industry was ready to help ease the country’s power shortages by building up to 609MW in electricity generating capacity, said Bloomberg News.

The newswire cited data supplied by the Minerals Council South Africa which showed projects, largely photovoltaic solar ventures, were being prepared by Sibanye-Stillwater, Orion Minerals, Vedanta Resources, Harmony Gold, and Gold Fields, among others.

Sibanye-Stillwater has environmental and ministerial approval for the first 50MW module of its planned plant, but it needs permission for at least another 150MW to make the project economically viable, James Wellsted, a company spokesman told Bloomberg News. The project will be financed and managed by a “third party,” he said.

“We also do see government engaging with business around alternative energy projects,” said Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater. “There is a recognition by the minister [Gwede Mantashe] that we are part of the solution and he is trying to open the doors and facilitate these projects.”

Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, said earlier this week that it was crucial to structure the electricity industry in such a way that private capital could participate in the building of independent power. This would ease the pressure on the power utility which he said was increasingly unable to extract reliable electricity from the older parts of its fleet.

According to Minerals Council data, Sibanye-Stillwater and Vedanta Resources have plans to build some 200MW of power generating capacity each. It would take Sibanye-Stillwater  some nine months to build the power whilst Vedanta has given a lead time of zero to 36 months to build that generating capacity.

Anglo American Platinum wants to build 75MW of generating capacity over a period of 28 months but it doesn’t yet have a licence to do it.

Gold Fields wants to build 63MW of generating capacity through a combination of diesel power (23MW) and photovoltaic solar power (40Mw).

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