Support for mines to generate own power gains traction

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Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe.

Momentum to get mining companies to generate their own energy is gaining traction as government announced yesterday it is in the process of gazetting a revised schedule of the Electricity Regulation Act.

Addressing the 26th Annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town yesterday, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe said this is one of the measures being considered to address electricity supply challenges.

Mantashe’s announcement comes a few days after Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter called for increased use of renewable energy, combined with investments by private capital.

The new Eskom boss said in the longer term, generation of independent power will be positive for the country. De Ruyter wants mines to produce their own electricity so pressure can be taken off the national grid.

Additionally, the ANC national executive committee lekgotla recently called for energy transformation in SA, which would reduce net costs and bring significant socio-economic benefits, such as increased economic growth, job creation and overall welfare gains.

The latest development comes as the power utility announced stage two rotational load-shedding will be implemented until Thursday, due to a shortage of capacity.

Mantashe said the department issued a request for information in December 2019 to invite responses from the market on innovative potential solutions to deliver power generation to the grid as expeditiously as possible.

“We welcome all inputs from the market; these will give the department a sense of possible immediate generation options available in the next three to 12 months to fill the short- to medium-term gap,” he said.

Furthermore, the minister said together with Anglo Platinum, the department – through its agency Mintek – is working on using hydro-fuel cells as an energy source for mining trucks with an aim of replacing diesel usage with hydro-fuel cell technology.

“This is a major and innovative project that will have a significant impact on low carbon emissions and cost-effectiveness. It is also an example of good partnership between government and business.

“In addition to these initiatives, we are seeking solutions to network infrastructure challenges facing the mining sector, namely rail and port infrastructure, by engaging the Department of Public Enterprises,” he said.

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