Johannesburg, South Africa --- MININGREVIEW.COM --- 25 January, 2008 - Various South African gold and other mines have started suspending operations in the wake of state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings Ltd’s warning to them to reduce their power loads to minimum levels.
A letter to this effect, signed by Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga, was delivered to key industrial consumers late yesterday. It said these consumers had to reduce their power loads to minimum levels, and added that Eskom could not guarantee power supply.
In response, Gold Fields Limited announced here this morning that all mining activities had been suspended at its South African operations.
A company statement said the decision had been taken to put no shifts down last night, and no shifts were put down this morning. “Eskom has indicated that key industrial consumers’ loads will be reduced to ‘survival levels’ or switched out totally for the next two to four weeks,” it added.
“This will have a serious effect on the South African operations,” said Gold Fields CEO Ian Cockerill, “and will negatively affect our gold production. Our South African operations produce approximately 7 000 ounces per day,” he pointed out. “We are looking at ways to continue operations, and will work closely with Eskom to try and resolve this problem.”
Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) received the communiqué from Eskom this morning advising that electric power could not be guaranteed at its operations. The company responded with the following statement: “Due to safety concerns, management has taken the decision to withdraw the workforce and cancel the day shift at Impala Rustenburg. Operations at Marula will continue normally, unless load shedding is applied. In this event the workforce will be evacuated in line with normal procedures. The refineries in Springs will not be affected.”
“The impact of this stoppage is in the order of 3 500 ounces of platinum per day,” the Implats Statement revealed.
Confirming receipt of the Eskom communication, Harmony Gold said that it had not sent down this morning's shift, and that its mines were only operating emergency services such as pumps and ventilation fans. It is believed that Anglo Platinum – the world's largest platinum producer – is also not operating today.