In our lead story this week:
Mining companies say they are moving ahead with South African investment plans, despite power constraints, arguing that the current situation is only temporary.
Most of the country’s mines were forced to close operations for up to five days this week, after Eskom could not guarantee uninterrupted supply.
This stoppage has cost the country’s economy an estimated R200-million every day, as local mines lost thousands of ounces, which pushed the prices of platinum and gold touching new records.
Sipho Nkosi, head of the Chamber of Mines and CEO of Exxaro Resources:
But while government and industry insisted that the power crisis would not deter investment, an analysts warned that it could curtail mining investment by as much as 25% over the short- to medium term.
The power shortage has been blamed on a toxic cocktail of operational instability and inclement weather. Insufficient, and poor-quality wet coal supply meant that just about every coal-fired station was producing well below its nameplate capacity.
The State has warned that it will evoke “emergency measures” to safeguard the delivery of improved quality and quantities of the coal supply to power utility Eskom. However, coal miners say they are supplying the fuel according to their contractual obligations.
South Africa has also unveiled plans to stabilise the country’s electricity system and conserve between 3 000 MW and 4 000 MW over the next six months.
This programme will initially focus on load shedding and cutting supply to certain customer groups, such as mines and industry, but will later centre on power rationing.
Gold-miner Harmony Gold says it’s investigating the feasibility of extracting gold from tailings dams at its operations in the Welkom area.
Should the project get the necessary environmental go-ahead, construction can start towards the end of the year.
Harmony says the current proposal is focused on the extraction of gold only, but that the potential of uranium will also be assessed.
Also in this week’s Mining Weekly Online:
Uranium producer First Uranium says its looking to buy assets in the US, Canada, South America and Australia to reduce its geographical risk.
World number-one steam coal exporter Xstrata plans to spend nearly $1,2-billion to lift its South African production of the fuel by some 16,4-million tons by 2012.
JSE-listed diamond producer Diamond Core says all the conditions precedent to its merger with BRC Diamonds have been met and that it will start trading under its new name, BRC DiamondCore, on February 10.
And in this week’s Mining Weekly magazine, out on Friday, read our cover story mine safety, and whether South Africa could stop the deaths in its mines.
Finally, don’t miss our features on project house and exploration
That’s a round up of this week’s stories on Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly. For more on these and other stories, visit miningweekly.com