SA mining investment deterred by power supply woes as Eskom warns loadshedding may return

NEW mining investment in South Africa was being discouraged owing to power utility Eskom’s ongoing supply problems, said Reuters.

Citing Impala Platinum CEO, Nico Muller, the newswire said Eskom’s problems would have “a material bearing” on growth investment in the country.

“I think the impact of Eskom is far more pronounced than the impact of Covid-19, although Covid-19 is getting all the attention,” he said. Muller was speaking at the Joburg Indaba PGM day on Wednesday.

Whilst power supply was not the main driver behind its investment decision-making, it determined investor appetite in the country, said Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats).

Plans to develop smelting capacity for base metals production, which is a by-product of PGM mining, were also being affected, she said.

Eskom said today that the country may make a swift return to power rationing after a conveyer belt carrying coal to its Medupi power station snapped overnight. Loadshedding had been called off after more than a week of implementation on Wednesday.

“Four generation units in service are not able to take in the requisite amount of coal to generate electricity. This puts further strain on Eskom’s ability to fully supply electricity over the next 24 hours,” the utility said in an announcement.

As a result, Eskom may implement stage 2 loadshedding which rotates a cut of 2,000MW across the national grid.