Gold mines whose operations ground to a halt on Wednesday night, after a fire at an Eskom substation, were assessing the impact on production as partial power supply was restored.
The fire at the transformer on the West Rand followed heavy rains and lightning near Carletonville on Wednesday. It affected mines that account for more than 20 percent of domestic gold output.
Village Main Reef’s Blyvooruitzicht mine and DRDGold’s Doornfontein mine were affected, along with operations of AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye Gold.
There was no night shift on Wednesday at three AngloGold shafts affected by the outage, namely Mponeng, TauTona and Savuka, spokesman Alan Fine said yesterday.
“Our mines’ own emergency power and an eventual provision by Eskom of a limited power supply were used to evacuate the approximately 400 people underground at the time,” Fine said.
“We are assessing the extent to which the partial available power supply will permit resumption of operations, and will advise when this is determined.”
Sibanye Gold lost a night shift at its Driefontein mine on Wednesday and a day shift yesterday because of the fire.
“We have emergency power sources, we were able to hoist all night shift workers from underground,” Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said.
The night shift was expected to go ahead yesterday, he added. About 1 600 ounces of production were lost, but would be recovered by an additional shift on Saturday, Wellsted said.
Eskom was repairing the problem which affected 400 megawatts of capacity, while the cause of the fire was being investigated, it said.
Eskom said it “is working to repair a transformer at its Midas sub-station near Carletonville, which caught fire on Wednesday, causing the interruption of supply to customers in the area, mainly mines”.
It added that back-up power supply was installed on Wednesday night to restore about 120MW and ensure that all miners who were underground could be brought to the surface and that the mines’ essential services could continue.
Eskom made about 300MW of capacity available yesterday and was working to restore the grid to full operation.