South Africa: Most Mining Stops, but Old King Coal Rolls On

(file photo).

Covid-19 has not rendered coal a fossil of the past, thanks to Eskom's heavy reliance on it. Some mining and processing linked to coal will continue to support 'limited economic activity'.

Mines and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said in a televised media briefing on Wednesday that security of energy supply remains critical to South Africa.

"The supply of fuel to essential services, as well as the supply of coal to Eskom... are critical during this period," he said, adding that a complete shutdown of some mines and processing plants would "not be feasible".

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu‏ told Business Maverick the union had been informed that only coal mines supplying Eskom will continue to operate.

Mines that produce for export would abide by the lockdown and go on "care and maintenance", which is industry lingo for keeping basic things humming, such as water pumping, so the operation can be quickly rebooted when the lockdown is over.

Eskom has said its coal-fired plants have, on average, 50 days' worth of coal stock.

Mantashe said "limited economic activity" would be supported during the lockdown, which begins just before midnight on Thursday, adding: "I want to underline the adjective...

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