3 June 2008 – Kumba Iron Ore and its major shareholder Anglo American have agreed to second Kumba CEO Ras Myburgh to Eskom for two years from July 1 to advise the power utility on its coal procurement strategy.

The appointment should bring a businesslike approach to the state utility’s coal buying arm, shortly after the report by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) on SA’s electricity shortage criticised Eskom’s "inadequate primary energy procurement". Coal stockpiles had been "allowed to decline to unacceptably low levels", the regulator said.

In January, when Eskom cut electricity to SA’s underground mines, coal stocks were reported to have dwindled to four days’ worth of consumption, compared with a target of 20 days.

Myburgh would remain on Kumba’s payroll, spokesman Tebello Chabana confirmed. However, another CEO, Chris Griffith, now head of joint venture operations at Anglo Platinum, has been appointed to succeed Myburgh. Anglo American owns 63% of Kumba Iron Ore and 77% of Angloplat.

Myburgh said the request for his appointment had come from Eskom’s board and it was in everyone’s interests to bring in additional experience and skills. He had worked for Eskom’s generation division before joining Kumba Resources (later split into Kumba Iron Ore and Exxaro Resources) as coal division MD.

Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga told a press briefing last week that since coal was a strategic resource, something had to be done to secure supply. "It may be a combination of things but how that would unfold was still in the early stages," a Mining Weekly Online report said.

Myburgh said he had held no talks on specifics. His move was intended to strengthen the Eskom team and advise it on its coal supply strategy. Amid high prices for export coal, getting affordable coal would be difficult, he agreed. Eskom had been frank about the cost of coal and that was why it was necessary to adopt a broad perspective.

"Eskom is really doing whatever it can and is very serious about getting things right. We all need to do everything we can," he said.