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Mantashe expects Eskom to keep the lights on for 21-day lockdown

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe
Image: Russell Roberts

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe says Eskom is expected to keep the lights on during the nationwide lockdown even though some of its suppliers might scale down production.

Mantashe was speaking at a press briefing in Pretoria to outline measures to mitigate the impact of the imminent lockdown on the minerals and energy sector after the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Mantashe said the industry also stood ready to help the government with additional beds and quarantine sites should the need arise.

Mantashe said Eskom would be under less strain during the lockdown due to lower demand for electricity.

“Supplying Eskom with coal is a requirement and we are appreciative of the fact that with a lockdown the demand will be very low‚ therefore it is unlikely that we will have load-shedding.

“Therefore we don’t have a fear of load-shedding‚ but we require Eskom not to be in a situation where they cannot supply electricity to society‚” he said.

Mantashe said representatives of the mining and energy sectors met yesterday to determine how they would operate as part of essential services exempted from the shutdown.

“While demand is expected to decline in the period ahead‚ as a result of restrictions on economic activity‚ security of energy supply remains critical.

“The supply of fuel to the relevant critical and essential services‚ as well as the supply of coal to Eskom for electricity supply and liquid fuels production‚ are critical during this period‚” Mantashe said. “We are mindful that in some mining operations and processing plants a complete shutdown will not be feasible‚ as a restart from scratch may be too costly. This would negatively affect security of supply‚ and therefore the economy as a whole.

“Working together with the South African Petroleum Industry Association‚ the Minerals Council SA and in consultation with labour unions‚ we have developed a framework through which these industries will implement the envisaged directives.

“This is being done to safeguard the lives of people‚ while ensuring that the limited economic activity which will be undertaken during this period is supported.”

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