South Africa’s energy crisis is expected to dominate discussions at this year’s Mining Indaba which kicks off in Cape Town on Monday.
Experts say the mining sector will have to find alternative sources of energy to lessen its reliance on the national power utility. They say this will assist Eskom to alleviate rolling blackouts.
In 2021, the mining sector contributed 8.7% to South Africa’s gross domestic product.
The Mining Indaba is the largest meeting of over 7000 delegates who come together every year to share and create dialogue that is intended to spark change and ultimately, drive investment.
Founder and Director of Peta Attorneys, Dineo Peta says this year’s gathering will serve as an opportunity to attract investment from international energy supply players.
Peta says this is because there is ample opportunity in the energy sector to assist government in solving the country’s electricity problem.
At the same time, she says it cannot be avoided that the coal sector plays an even bigger role in South Africa because of the part it plays in lighting up the country.
“In accordance with the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019, coal remains one of the key energy sources for the supply of electricity, so coal will continue to play a critical role particularly in electricity supply in South Africa.”
According to the Minerals Council of South Africa, the mining industry uses up to 30% of Eskom’s annual power supply. However, Peta says the mining sector must find alternative renewable energy sources to power up their machinery which will in turn reduce the industry’s reliance on the power grid.
“Mining companies in particular need to look at avenues of utilising machinery that are less reliant on fossil fuels and look at other alternative modes of renewable energy.”
At the same time, Minerals Council of South Africa’s Chief Economist, Henk Langenhoven says one of the mining sector’s challenges is the intensity of the rolling blackouts.
Langenhoven says this hampered last year’s production.
“Energy is the obvious one. I had a look again today at how much that could have shaved off this year well last year’s performance already and it could be anything between 10 and 20%…Of course something like making enough money available to Eskom to run the diesel turbines will have an impact, I mean if they run full blast they could shave one or two levels of load shedding off.”
On the other hand, gold mining company, Harmony Gold says it is on its second phase of building its renewable plant which will produce over 100 megawatts of electricity.
The company says it wants to be less reliant on the national grid.
The Mining Indaba is set to take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 6-9.
VIDEO: Director of Mining, Peter Major interviewed ahead of the Africa Mining Indaba: