[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Aluminium smelters keep on tickin'?
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Jan 27 14:51:38 GMT 2008
(Anyone on the debate list from Richards Bay? I can't find any info on
whether BHP Billiton has been load-shed. They are 'mum'...)
Besieged Eskom to speak next week
Silence in response to outrage.
18 Jan 2008 16:49
Eskom will explain itself to the public in a media release next week and
until then cannot respond to media enquiries.
That's the word from the office of Bongani Mqwababa, finance director,
who this week urged government to close SA to big new industrial
projects until 2013 when electricity supply is expected to improve.
That statement amounts to stalling new job generation for another six
Dr Johan van Zyl, president of the National Association of Automobile
Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) and CEO of Toyota, said the statement was
"very, very worrying".
Through Business Unity SA, Naamsa will seek urgent clarification of
Said Van Zyl: "Several of our members have expanded, or are doing so.
They need power. A decision is pending on BMW's new models. Daimler
Chrysler and VWSA have completed their investments. If SA wants to
supply global markets, we have to produce bigger volumes, so Eskom's
statement is really worrying."
Bill Stephens, spokesperson for VWSA, said Mqwababa's statement was
"We can't put our future development on hold, pending Eskom's ability to
supply. We have a four to five year product cycle. Each new model
entails a very large investment in a new line and that new line needs
Nqwababa wants the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminium smelter at Coega to be
delayed but Rio Tinto stated yesterday that the project will go ahead.
It has secured a 25-year supply contract from Eskom.
SA's power monopoly is under siege over its rolling blackouts with
government, mining, industry, commerce and the general public baying for
Shops, cinemas, restaurants, petrol stations and even cellphone
communications are stopped dead without notice as power fails. Traffic
lights fail, causing total gridlock in built-up areas. Businesses and
households have scrambled to buy generators.
The impact on consumer and investor morale has been dramatic. People
unable to work, or even get a cup of coffee, those who spend 90 minutes
in the traffic instead of 45 and can't watch TV get the feeling that
civilised life in SA is in jeopardy. To many, Eskom's frequent
black-outs appear a first step towards another Zimbabwe.
The Public Protector has demanded an explanation. This may explain
Eskom's decision to put out a considered statement only next week.
Eskom has done a better job of communicating with its large scale
industrial clients than it has with the general public.
Recognising that the country cannot afford plant and mine shutdowns,
Eskom is also subjecting mines and industry to fewer power outages.
Van Zyl said Toyota's stamping plant has been affected by blackouts but
not its main plant in Durban.
"Our sales and marketing operations have been plunged into darkness and
have had to buy their own generators but our suppliers are worst
affected. Because they can't provide parts, our production in Durban has
Both Nissan and VWSA reported that they have not yet suffered any cuts
Nissan said: "We have future volume expansion projects, but fortunately
have not had any Eskom electricity supply interruptions recently. Should
our electricity supply be interrupted, it will affect us severely since
production will be stopped completely.
"Going forward, we hope that our production plant will not be affected
to any significant degree in the short to medium term. We will, however,
monitor the situation stringently and continue to seek alternative power
supply sources to minimise disruption by power cuts.
Nissan said outages would affect not only its plant but those of its
component makers and other suppliers.
Anglo American will not comment until the type of industrial delays
suggested by Mqwababa are official Eskom policy. It admits that such a
policy would be negative for some of its large investment projects.
The Chamber of Mines does not comment on the operational aspects of its
members. The Bombela-Gautrain project and BHP Billiton were also mum.
Rand Refinery CEO Alan Muir said Eskom was sticking to its power cut
schedules but even this vital strategic plant's production is suffering.
Rand Refinery has to shut down its arc furnace frequently.
Delays at Rand Refinery cost mines heavily because they do not get paid
for their production until bullion is brought close to 100% purity from
the 87% purity attained at the mines themselves.
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