South Africa: Minister Mantashe Says Mining Sector Needs Lower Power Prices

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The mining industry and its minister Gwede Mantahshe agree on one key thing: the need for lower power prices. Getting there, given the woeful state of Eskom's finances will not be easy.

South Africa's mines and energy minister Gwede Mantashe and the industry have found common ground on the issue of power prices. Addressing the mining sector's Joburg Indaba on Thursday, 3 October, Mantashe was emphatic about the need for lower power prices because South Africa was "exporting jobs to China" along with its manganese.

The context to those remarks is that setting up energy-intensive smelters here to refine minerals such as manganese is not a viable option in the face of power prices, which have been soaring over the past decade even as the financial fortunes of mismanaged and looted state-run power utility Eskom's have declined. According to the Minerals Council South Africa, the main industry group, "nearly 50% of intermediary input costs are influenced by administered prices and provided by state-owned enterprises".

The bulk of those administered costs would be power and the Minerals Council has warned of an acceleration in the pace of job losses if power prices maintain their steep climb.

Mantashe had a brief Q...

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