South Africa’s power challenges continue to significantly impact business and industrial operations throughout the country, with the utility declaring a power system emergency, and an unprecedented move to Stage 6 load shedding on Monday, 9 December.In a statement released on Tuesday, 10 December, Eskom said that while progress has been made with coal handling at the Medupi power station, breakdowns are at 15 200MW as at 05:43 on 10 December. It added that the incessant rains continue to impact coal handling and operations at its power stations with the probability for load shedding remains high for the rest of the week. Eskom said that the Emergency Response Command Centre continues to monitor the situation and the focus is to reduce unplanned breakdowns to below 9 500MW to enable us to minimise and to stop loadshedding in the following week. Harmony Gold Mining Company confirmed that, in response to a request received from power utility Eskom late yesterday afternoon, it has reduced power consumption at its South African operations to levels required only for the maintenance of emergency services.
“In the interest of safety and due to reduced power supply, night shift employees at Harmony’s South African underground operations did not go underground last night and today’s day shift employees, similarly, will stay on surface. We will resume shifts as soon as Eskom is able to provide us with the assurance that power supply will be more reliable,” said Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony.Petra Diamonds said on Monday, 9 December, in response to the notification it received from Eskom requesting that it reduce load to essential loads level, with the result that Petra is in the process of halting its mining operations at Cullinan, Finsch and Koffiefontein. “Production, hoisting and processing have stopped with immediate effect and the company is now removing all people from underground, except those required for essential services, with only pumping to prevent flooding and ventilation for safety being allowed.” Petra stated that will update the market as soon as it receives further notification as to how long the load curtailment will last, and therefore what impact this is likely to have upon the company’s production performance. Other media reports pointed to Sibanye-Stillwater and Implats also reducing production at its operations due to the current load shedding milieu.