The annual Investing in African Mining Indaba is usually prominent for creating dialogue on licensing policies and investment opportunities across the continent. However, this year’s agenda has been centered around South Africa’s energy crisis.
Kickstarting the conference, minister in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, has endorsed the procurement of emergency or short-term power from existing facilities and other private power plants.
Additionally, South Africa will be able to purchase additional electricity from neighbouring countries which can be unblocked in the short to medium term. Locally, Mantashe has pointed out the need to advance the skills capacity at South Africa’s ailing power utility Eskom.
On the other hand, Mantashe has applauded Gold Fields for a 10% production increase for 2022, owing to the reforms on embedded generation which they took advantage of following the amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA) wherein the licensing requirement for generation projects for own use was increased from 1 megawatt to 100 megawatts, and ultimately removed altogether. He has also urged other miners to consider this route.
“This cushioned them from the impact of loadshedding as they were able to generate their own energy, and thus increased and maintained production.”
Day 2 of the conference began with a keynote address from President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“In the last six months, we have signed agreements for 25 projects representing 2,800 MW of new capacity. These projects will soon be proceeding to construction. The mining sector has been making significant moves towards generating its own electricity,” he said.
According to the Minerals Council of South Africa, since the licensing threshold was lifted, approximately 89 embedded power generation projects have been developed, with a focus on renewable energy solutions like solar, wind and battery storage, which is a sign in the right direction.