Mines say they need a constant power supply

Mines had their power levels increased from 80% to 90% on Friday but they still needed a guarantee of a reliable power supply, the Gold Fields mining company said on Friday.

“While we welcome the reinstatement of the 90% power levels, we urgently need a guarantee of a sustainable level of supply,” said head of Gold Fields SA operations, Terence Goodlace.

“We need to have a consistent guaranteed supply to re-establish our operations safely at these levels.”

Eskom spokesperson Willie Jacobz said on Thursday night that Eskom reinstated the authorisation for mines to increase their power load from 80% to 90%.

He said the company was slowly increasing its power load while taking into consideration the safety implications of an “erratic and uncertain power supply”.

On Thursday, Eskom backtracked on an undertaking earlier in the week when it promised to provide 90% of its normal power supplies to mining companies by the end of the week.

Last Friday, most gold, diamond and platinum mines came to a halt because Eskom said it could not guarantee a stable power supply.

This has led mining companies to ponder how many jobs would be lost due to production losses.

On Thursday, Harmony Gold chief executive Graham Briggs said Harmony Gold had not been able to quantify how many losses there would be.

He said he expected that under 10% of the workforce may be lost.

Harmony employs about 43 500 people.

AngloGold Ashanti spokesperson Alan Fine said the number of job losses were dependent on the power supply.

“It will depend on what extent we are going to be able to operate our mines over the next period of time,” he said.

Gold Fields said it was premature to announce there would be any job losses resulting from reduced power supplies.

“If we have sustained loss of production one can assume a commensurate loss of labour,” he said. - Sapa

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