Construction at Medupi
power station “’ struggling
to meet production deadline
Johannesburg, South Africa — 24 April 2013 – The South African mining industry “’ the gold and platinum sectors in particular “’ are facing the possibility of having insufficient power in the approaching winter season, as Eskom Holdings SOC Limited “’ the state-owned power utility that generates about 95% of the country’s power “’ warns it will be doing maintenance on nine of its units as it expects “an extremely cold winter.”

The company will take 2,000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity out of production as it can’t delay maintenance on these aging units, Bloomberg News quotes CEO Brian Dames as saying. The power system will be tight in the country’s winter, which runs from about May to August, public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba added.

“This winter will be different,” Dames said. “We will do outage work on nine units between April and August.”

Eskom is spending about US$54.1 billion revamping old plants and building new ones to avoid a repeat of the January 2008 blackouts that halted mines for five days and paralysed factories.

 Shortages are at similar levels now to five years ago, threatening gold and platinum output and the nation’s 2013 growth forecast of 2.7% on concern that there will be insufficient power in the approaching winter season.

Gigaba said the country can’t afford any delays to the December 2013 deadline for the first generation unit being switched on at the US$9.85 billion Medupi power station, which will generate 4,800MWof electricity once completed.

South Africa, which relies on coal for about 80% of its generation, is building the world’s third- and fourth-largest power stations fired by the fuel.

The country’s electricity supply has been constrained by unreliable power imports from Mozambique, labour strikes at coal suppliers and a faulty unit at Africa’s only nuclear power station.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.