Eskom hikes will cost mining jobs, says Solidarity

Eskom’s proposed electricity tariff increases could result in more retrenchments in the mining industry, trade union Solidarity said on Friday.

“A large-scale electricity increase above the inflation curve will seriously affect mining and there could be a drastic levelling out.

“Gold and platinum mines are deep and therefore the product processing is electricity intensive,” said Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans.

“If electricity price increases are out of proportion, it could have extremely negative consequences for workers and producers.”

The utility has applied to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa has applied for a new tariff hike.

A public airing of the proposed hike in Parliament was prevented by public enterprises committee chairperson Vytjie Mentor who said it might cause “public consternation”.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that a leaked document revealed the hike would be 66%. The following day, Business Day reported a potential hike of between 45% and 66% was being mooted.

Kleynhans argued that if a 66% annual hike over the next three years was granted, it would mean that tariffs would have increased by 666% from 2008 until 2012.

He said the mining industry had already lost 34 000 jobs and more losses could result due to the tariff hike.
He said that smaller gold miners were already negotiating for retrenchments.—Sapa

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