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Eskom: Heavy rain in Mpumalanga still impacting coal supply

The power utility effected stage four load shedding on Tuesday morning, down from stage six on Monday.

The Hendrina power station in Mpumalanga. Picture: eskom.co.za

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom on Tuesday said it was in a better position with generating capacity, but heavy rain in Mpumalanga was still impacting its coal supply.

The power utility effected stage four load shedding in the morning, down from stage six on Monday.

• What stage 6 (and 7 & 8) load shedding means

Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer said the parastatal stockpiled on emergency supplies, like water and diesel, overnight and things were looking better. But South Africans were nowhere near out of the woods. The heavy rain and its effect on coal continued to hamper electricity output.

Oberholzer said they were working hard to mitigate the burden on consumers.

“We are still in excess of a 1,000 MW because of the rain, as it is still raining in Mpumalanga, where the majority of our coal power plant is situated. It looks much better than yesterday.”

Tuesday’s load shedding was expected to continue until 11 pm, but that was not guaranteed.

Meanwhile, the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality said it was hoping to fully restore electricity to areas affected by the Kwagga substation explosion in Atteridgeville.

Firefighters were deployed to the substation to extinguish the blaze which started at 4am. At the weekend, another substation went up in flames in Bryanston and left leaving residents in the dark for much of Saturday.

MINING OPERATIONS

At the same time, more industrial clients have inadvertently come to Eskom’s aid by reducing their electricity consumption in the face of never-ending load shedding. Mining companies said they were been forced to cut production.

Harmony Gold called off its underground shifts, saying it would resume as soon as Eskom provided assurance that power supply would be more reliable.

Impala Platinum also shut production at its Rustenburg and Marula Mines owing to power cuts that left it functioning at between 20 and 30 percent of normal power. Implats also revealed that its lost R120 million from the closure of those mines.

Meanwhile, Sibanye-Stillwater shut all its deep level mines on Monday but planned to send workers back underground on Tuesday afternoon.

RAMAPHOSA UNDER FIRE

President Cyril Ramaphosa was criticised for leaving the country in the lurch and failing to adequately address the power crisis. Ramaphosa flew out to Egypt on Monday night to attend a conference.

Although he sent out a statement acknowledging the country's frustration, Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen said the president needed to come back home urgently.

“Every time the electricity goes off, it kills jobs and economic growth. While the country is in the midst of this crisis, our president is in Egypt. I can’t understand anything that would be more important than dealing hands-on with the crisis here at home. We are urging the president to come home and take charge of this crisis.”

Steenhuisen was speaking outside Eskom’s headquarters in Megawatt Park, where he outlined his DA’s plan on how to deal with Eskom’s problems.