HomeBase MetalsLoad- shedding again – but not for the mines

Load- shedding again – but not for the mines

Number Nine shaft at the
Gold Fields Driefontein
mine – one of many
affected by the current
power crisis
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 4 February, 2008 – The new week is off to a promising start in terms of the power crisis which has been disrupting the mining industry for the past ten days.

Spokesman for the state-owned power utility Eskom – Andrew Etzinger – confirmed in an interview with miningreview.com today that load-shedding had been resumed just after eight o’ clock this morning. He emphasised, however, that there had been no power cuts affecting the country’s mines.

“The mining industry has co-operated with us by cutting power consumption to 90%,” he pointed out, “so we are doing our best to prevent any further disruption to the mining sector. If,
however, the overall stability of the grid is threatened, and we are compelled to include the mining industry,” he emphasised, “we have undertaken to give an advance warning of at least four hours before taking any action – and we will most certainly abide by this undertaking.”

South African gold, platinum, diamond and other mines starting suspending production more than a week ago, and were then told by Eskom that power would be back to 80% by last Wednesday evening, and to 90% by the following night. This undertaking was subsequently withdrawn, and then re-instated last Thursday night.

Meanwhile the ongoing power crisis – and uncertainty as to the immediate future of electricity supply – has led to the possibility of major mining houses having to reduce employment.

In its quarterly results announcement late last week, Gold Fields warned that operating at only 90% power usage could lead to a 20% decline in production, which would place six of the company’s shafts at risk and could have an impact on jobs. Harmony Gold has confirmed that jobs could be affected by the power crisis, but there has been no official word from AngloGold Ashanti at this stage.