South Africa’s biggest platinum and gold mining companies are scaling back some operations as record power cuts, now in their sixth day, start to cripple key parts of the economy.
Eskom Holdings on Monday moved to Stage 6 load-shedding from 18:00 local time, meaning it cut 6 000 MW from the national grid, the most yet, after a technical problem at the new Medupi Power Station. The utility has since downgraded the status to Stage 4.
Workers at Impala Platinum Holdings didn’t start the 04:00 underground shift Tuesday and the company has stopped milling ore and shut its smelter, spokesperson Johan Theron said by phone.
Harmony Gold Mining was still weighing plans to resume operations at nine underground mines shut down on Monday evening after Eskom cut 6 000 MW from the national grid, spokesperson Marian van der Walt said by phone Tuesday.
“Due to safety we decided not to allow people underground and may actually be doing the same today,” Van der Walt said. “We are still assessing, but things aren’t looking much different today.”
Sibanye Gold, the largest private-sector employer halted “all high energy-intensive activities” Monday evening, spokesperson James Wellsted said. “We are stopping milling operations,” he added.
Petra Diamonds stopped mining at its South African operations.
South Africa’s mining industry is a pillar of the economy despite its contribution to gross domestic product declining in recent years.
A spokesperson for Anglo American Platinum said she couldn’t immediately respond to emailed queries.