Power – the situation
improves for Easter
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 March, 2008 – State-owned power utility Eskom Holdings Ltd says South Africa’s power situation has improved after a two-day crisis that threatened supplies to mines, and adds that while load-shedding would continue today, there is likely to be full power for the Easter weekend from tomorrow.

A programme of rolling blackouts was re-started on Monday as cold and wet weather raised electricity demand. Eskom warned on Tuesday that power could be cut to the mines if two more of its 160 generators failed. At that time nine generators had tripped and another nine had been shut down for maintenance.

The power utility has confirmed since that four power-generating units were back up yesterday and it was cutting up to 1,000 megawatts of power. On Tuesday, it cut 3,000 MW.

An Eskom spokesperson pointed out that the key factor now was that there was no longer the threat of having to declare a force majeure with the utility’s biggest customers – which mainly involved the South African mining industry.

The national electricity grid came close to collapse in January, forcing gold and platinum mines to shut down for five days. Since then mines have been operating below full power, driving up precious metal prices and raising fears of possible job losses and slowed growth.

Eskom is planning to spend some R350 million the next five years and R1.3 trillion in the period up to 2025 to increase its generating capacity, including the construction new nuclear power plants.