SOUTH Africa’s power utility, Eskom, rationed electricity for a second day Wednesday and warned outages may worsen due to breakdowns at key generation units, said Bloomberg News.
Eskom said it would cut 2,000MW from the country’s national grid between 8am and 10pm, and added that: “There is a high probability that additional stages of load shedding may be implemented at short notice”.
Eskom, which is saddled with R450bn of debt, blamed failures in 10 generation units at seven power stations for load-shedding, said the newswire.
“A generator each broke down at Arnot, Medupi, Lethabo, Matla power stations, while two units each at Majuba, Camden and Tutuka power stations also broke down,” said Eskom in its announcement.
“This, together with the need to conserve emergency generation reserves, necessitated that load-shedding be implemented in order to protect the integrity of the system.” Unplanned breakdowns amount to 11 425MW of capacity, adding to the 4 983MW currently out on planned maintenance.
The power cuts are potentially ruinous for South Africa’s mining sector, especially as tariff increases are putting minerals processing facilities out of business.
“Prices in South Africa have escalated 500% over 10 years. Under these types of increases, we will struggle,” said Japie Fullard, head of ferrochrome operations for Glencore in South Africa in an article in August. “I can’t see how we can operate our smelters in that price environment,” he said.
Niël Pretorius, CEO of DRDGOLD, said following his firm’s full-year results announcement on Tuesday said Eskom disruptions were not just a question of “cost and reliability, but also the quality of electricity supply”.
“We get power surges which is not good for our operations,” he said.