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SA will need less coal to feed power stations

Eskom “’ will need
less coal in future
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 27 January 2010 – State-owned power supplier Eskom will need a third less coal than expected to feed its South African power stations by 2018, as recession in Africa’s largest economy erodes electricity demand.

Head of generation Brian Dames said the company expected to need 141 million tonnes of coal a year by 2018, “’ down 30% from a previous estimate of 200 million.

The company is bringing the first of two more efficient power plants on line in the next two years, but Dames said there was anxiety over where the coal would come to feed its plants because of a lack of investment from coal miners in South Africa.

“One of the biggest problems South Africa has, although it’s got this abundant resource of coal in the ground….. one of our worries over the next ten years is where that coal is going to come from,” Dames said

“We’ve certainly seen, given the economic crisis, a lower projection in coal demand and 141 million tonnes is our current view of future demand,” he told Reuters.

“One of our problems is that we don’t have mines with a resource big enough to match our total current requirements, and that is a big concern for South Africa,” Dames added. He said that there was currently no South African coal mine with enough resources to match long-term requirements for a country suffering from chronic power shortage.

Dames stated that deteriorating coal quality was also a worrying factor, and that Eskom was not receiving top quality coal, which might impact on the performance of its fleet of stations.

Eskom is looking into the possibility of using washing plants to improve the quality of its coal.

Dames said its new Kusile and Medupi power plants, which were expected to supply 4 800 MW each, had been designed to use less coal than its conventional power stations.

“In terms of the improved efficiency at Medupi and Kusile, it will mean that we will use 1.8 million tonnes of coal less in producing the same amount of energy,” he added.