Mining CEOs yesterday showed support for ailing power utility Eskom and said while load shedding was a concern, they were optimistic about the future.
Speaking at the Coal and Energy Transition day held in Johannesburg yesterday, the 91% black-owned and controlled Seriti Resources CEO Mike Teke said what was happening in the country concerned him. He said state-owned enterprises were facing challenges and that the list was endless.
“If you're a citizen of a country, you want everything in your country to function without any problems. Reality is the day Eskom collapses completely. Then we are in trouble.
“Where I stand as Seriti, we collaborate with partners, and we aim to assist Eskom. I want to make sure that the power stations that I supply coal to, I do my best to balance the functions and deliver to those power stations. I want to understand that if there's a power station that is not functioning very well, I want to be closer to it,” he said.
Teke said, “I can take a bet. About next year this time load shedding will be gone. That's how confident I am,” he said.
Exxaro Resources CEO Nombasa Tsengwa said the country needed to have a functioning Eskom and Transnet.
“We have worked very well with Eskom. We have been partners for a long time. We need Eskom for our business to export coal,” she said.
Eskom general manager of strategy and planning Matthew Mflathelwa said: “Unfortunately, I'm not going to tell you when load shedding will end. I think you need more than one crystal ball to answer that question. However, what I can assure you is that we are on the path to recovery. I think the past couple of weeks have shown how we are slowly regaining the long capacity that we have.”
He said Eskom needed to manage the reduction of losses. “This has been our immediate focus. On the demand side, how do we reduce demand? Our experience also shows that the fastest way to address the load shedding problem and to reduce the intensity of load shedding is to fix our plants and reduce demand.”
Mflathelwa said investing in new capacity of renewables would help alleviate the power crisis, but it was not going to help in the next two or three months.
“So that's the kind of focus and attention that we face,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thungela Resources CEO July Ndlovu said there had been some improvements in the rail network for the coal deliveries.
“There has been an improvement. That’s a fact. In the first quarter, there was an average of 14 trains per day – the worst on recent record. But in the second quarter there were about 20 trains a day,” he said.
Transnet Freight Rail CEO Siza Mzimela said Transnet was capable of delivering 60 million tons of coal this year as a number of exogenous negative factors in previous years would not occur.