JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has been hit by a sixth straight day of rolling blackouts as state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. acts to prevent a total collapse of the grid after a raft of plant breakdowns.

The company implemented a record level of cuts -- 6,000 megawatts -- late Monday. That has prompted platinum and gold mines in the country to halt operations, while Cape Town’s government has warned that water shortages may follow. 

Mobile phone connectivity (12:30 p.m.)
Vodacom Group Ltd. said its customers around the country will be experiencing network-connectivity issues due to the Stage 4 load-shedding affecting its mobile phone towers.

“Our towers do use batteries as a back-up but these do have limited power and will eventually fail,” said spokesman Byron Kennedy. “A notable complication with Stage 4 load shedding over consecutive days is that batteries don’t get enough time to recharge to full capacity.”

Vodacom has recently put mitigation measures in place including additional batteries and generators around the country, he said.

Here are the latest developments, updated throughout the day: 

Mobile phone connectivity (12:30 p.m.)

Vodacom Group Ltd. said its customers around the country will be experiencing network-connectivity issues due to the Stage 4 load-shedding affecting its mobile phone towers.

“Our towers do use batteries as a back-up but these do have limited power and will eventually fail,” said spokesman Byron Kennedy. “A notable complication with Stage 4 load shedding over consecutive days is that batteries don’t get enough time to recharge to full capacity.”

Vodacom has recently put mitigation measures in place including additional batteries and generators around the country, he said.

Cape Town water (12 p.m.)

A return to Stage 6 could lead to water-supply interruptions in Cape Town, the city warned.

“Load-shedding of this severity is likely to constrain our ability to provide water supply in the reticulation system across the whole of Cape Town in the usual way,” it said in a statement. “Residents should not panic, but please use water sparingly and prepare just in case they do experience a period of no water supply.”

Platinum, palladium rise (10:30 a.m.)

Platinum and palladium led gains among major precious metals after South African producers said they had stopped operations. Platinum gained as much as 1.2%. Palladium rose as much as 0.6% to a fresh record of $1,894.47 an ounce, closing in on $1,900 for the first time. The metal has rallied 50% this year amid tight supply.

High likelihood of cuts all week (10 a.m.)

Eskom plans to cut 4,000 megawatts until 11 p.m. on Tuesday as it continues to face a shortage of generating capacity. Breakdowns are at 15,200 megawatts, the company said in a statement.

“The incessant rains continue to impact coal handling and operations at our power stations. The probability for load-shedding remains high for the rest of the week.”

Rains to continue (10 a.m.)

Heavy rains have soaked coal, which is used as fuel, and caused flooding at Eskom’s Kriel and Camden power stations, the utility said. South African Weather Service forecasts show rain in Mpumalanga, the province in which the electricity plants are located, will continue through Friday. Rainfall in Lephalale, near the giant Medupi plant, could reach as much as 25 mm (1 inch) today, forecasts show.

Mines close (Earlier)

Producers including Sibanye Gold Ltd., the world’s biggest platinum miner, recalled workers from underground and stopped milling ore after Eskom announced Stage 6 cuts on Monday night. No. 2 producer Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. didn’t start the 4 a.m. underground shift Tuesday and the company has stopped milling ore and shut its smelter.

BLOOMBERG