directives
South African DMRE Minister Gwede Mantashe

“Economic growth and sustainability are bolstered in an environment of a secure and reliable electricity supply,” stated Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy.

Mantashe was speaking at the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday (03 February), where he noted that the mining industry forms an essential part of the country’s economic growth.

The minister also cited President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 speech at the same gathering, outlining measures being considered to address the electricity supply challenges.

“To this end, in October last year, we gazetted the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – the country’s blueprint for long-term electricity. Following concurrence by energy regulator, NERSA, we are in the process of gazetting a revised Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act; which will enable self-generation; and facilitate municipal generation options under Distributed Generation,” Mantashe stated.

According to him, this will help close the energy gap caused by deteriorating Eskom plant performance.

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Depending on the circumstances, the generation plant may only require registration and not licensing.

He continued: “As we focus on energy security, we are also attending to the just transition towards low-carbon emissions. The Council for Geoscience (CGS), therefore, is looking at frontier coalfields and the establishment of additional generation capacity in support of carbon capture utilisation and storage. In an effort to increase energy efficiency, the CGS will further investigate the potential of carbon utilisation in contributing to enhanced geothermal energy generation and improved extraction of coal-bed methane.”

The minister also revealed that his department is working with Anglo Platinum on using hydro-fuel cells as an energy source for the mining trucks.

He said the intention is to replace diesel usage with hydro-fuel cell technology. “This is a major and innovative project that will have a significant impact on low carbon emissions and cost-effectiveness. It is also an example of good partnership between Government and Business,” he highlighted.

In addition to these initiatives, “we are seeking solutions to network infrastructure challenges facing the mining sector, namely rail and port infrastructure, by engaging the Department of Public Enterprises.”

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Changing economic landscape

Mantashe further noted that the world is grappling with a changing economic landscape, led by the 4th Industrial Revolution.

He said: “Global growth is projected to rise from an estimated 2.9% in 2019 to 3.3% in 2020; and 3.4% for 2021.

“According to the International Monetary Fund, South Africa’s GDP growth prospects for 2020 will be just under 1%. Contributing factors to this outlook are said to be structural constraints and recent power outages. The latest data released by Statistics SA show that mining production decreased by 3.1% year-on-year in November 2019.”