Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe
The deadline for public comment on the draft 2023 integrated resource plan (IRP) will be extended by a month to 23 March 2023, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe announced on Monday.
Mantashe was speaking during the opening ceremony of the 30th Mining Indaba, which is taking place in Cape Town this week.
“We don’t want to be accused of rushing it through or avoiding comments,” the minister said.
The long-awaited draft IRP — which sets out the path of the country’s energy future — was widely criticised when it was first released, mainly for its apparent scaling back of renewable capacity compared to its 2019 iteration.
The department of mineral resources and energy had hoped to finalise the IRP by May 2024, however this deadline will be pushed forward a month — which still doesn’t leave a lot of time for the plan to be scrutinised at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
Among other things, the plan proposes delaying shutting down certain of Eskom’s coal-fired power plants to avoid the economic impact of their premature decommissioning. If approved, this will be good news for the country’s coal miners, who have seen a significant drop in total sales over the last year.
In its industry outlook, the Minerals Council South Africa noted that there is no indication or clarity in the draft IRP on the revised dates or the quantum of the postponement.
Citing Eskom’s integrated report, the Minerals Council noted that the state power utility burned 102.4 megatonnes of coal in 2022-2023.
If the planned decommissioning of 24 100 megawatts by 2034 goes ahead, Eskom’s coal demand will be markedly reduced.
“As a result, the export market will play a crucial role in maintaining mining and logistics jobs,” the Minerals Council added.
Meanwhile, coal export volumes have been significantly dented because of the Transnet-induced logistics crisis. Coal miners have also had to contend with a wave of negative sentiment against the commodity, which has affected long-term investment in the industry, according to the Minerals Council.