ALL FALL DOWN: A coal storage silo which collapsed at Majuba power station in Mpumalanga, heralding the latest bout of power cuts.

The mining sector has been hard hit by load shedding and is seeking solutions to the problem.

The president of the SA Chamber of Mines, Mike Teke, expressed concern about the uncertainty of supply to the country and noted that this would further harm desperately needed economic growth.

“Although the mining sector contributes only about 7 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), its non-production has a direct impact on upstream and downstream industries related to the mining sector that contribute a further 10 percent to the GDP.

“Production stoppages that are caused by continual cuts to electricity supply will hurt the industry and the economy as a whole.”

With the announcement that there will be additional load shedding, there is more uncertainty in the industry.

“This is the time when all industries need to join forces with Eskom to address the electricity supply challenges the country is facing.

“The mining industry is willing to engage with Eskom to find solutions that will help improve electricity supply,” said Teke. He said the sector had “already reduced its electricity demand by 10 percent to assist Eskom (with) its desperate need to improve the electricity reserve situation and avoid a complete blackout”.

He warned that a request to further reduce electricity demand would be detrimental to the sector’s performance.

Property companies, too, are being affected, said Stephan le Roux, the divisional director of retail properties at Growthpoint Properties.

“Industrial and retail properties are particularly hard hit. In shopping centres, blackouts see them emptying quickly. A fixed-time schedule would be better. For example, every Monday and Wednesday from 9am-11am, an area would be load-shed. This would give businesses an opportunity to stay open later or compensate in other ways. The current schedule is such an unknown factor that consumers can’t plan.”

As for the effect on the economy, it is hard to quantify, he says, although he estimates around R300 billion since 2008. “The real concern is that we are being watched by international ratings agencies, the inflow of investment will be affected.”

- Sunday Argus