South Africa’s energy crisis is at the forefront of discussions at this week’s Mining Indaba. Over 6 500 delegates from the mining industry are attending the mining indaba.
South Africa has been grappling with energy supply for some time, as Eskom struggles to provide the country with reliable and affordable electricity.
The Minerals Council of South Africa says the mining industry production is hampered by the intense rolling blackouts as well as rail, habour challenges, among other things.
Minerals Council of South Africa says exports amounted close to R900-million last year showing an increase of 5% compared to the previous year.
However, the mining industry did not perform well in 2022 due to a number of reasons, one of them being the state-owned enterprises rail company, Transnet.
The council says Transnet played a role in hampering mining exports. It says another reason for the underperformance recorded by the mining sector last year is the intense rolling blackouts.
Minerals Council Chief Economist Henk Longehoven says exports have at the same time improved slightly compared to the previous year.
“The achievement is that we were able to grow exports slightly despite the constraints and we were also able to employ people.”
African Rail Industry Association CEO Masela Nhlapo says the Transnet’s infrastructure needs urgent attention to ensure efficient rail transportation.
“It’s not the industry that has losses but the country that is losing, whatever that Transnet cannot transport has a bearing on the GDP, it has a bearing on employment it has a bearing on a number of things.”
Deputy Director General for the department of Minerals and Energy, Ntokozo Ngcwabe says as the country along with the rest of the world moves to Just Transition, coal will not be deserted. She says the country’s electricity supply is still highly dependent on coal-fired power stations and that there will be talks with investors as to how to keep coal while heading to net-zero emission.
“Firstly government is committed to Just Transition however what we are saying is that the reality of the country is that our electricity is highly generated from coal-fired power stations so us transitioning from that high carbon economy to low carbon economy isn’t going to happen overnight so coal is still going to be with us for quite while we move to our just-transition journey to a lower carbon economy and while we move to decommission some of the coal-fired power plants.”
Meanwhile, the Minerals Council of South Africa says the mining industry is leading the charge in the development of renewable energy projects in South Africa. Council Senior Executive Nikisi Lesufi says coal will, however, still be required for the considerable future, of electricity generation.
He says green energy projects in the mining sector will help to reduce the country’s reliance on coal for power in the future.
“If you look at the pipeline of renewable energy projects, it is the mining industry that is the leader in that context. If you look at the 6 000 or so megawatts that are in the pipeline, the majority of those renewable energy projects are from the mining sector which is a clear demonstration of the intensity and the commitment of the Minerals Council members to move to a low-carbon economy.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the indaba on Tuesday. The outgoing Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter is also expected to speak at the Indaba.