Picture: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY
Picture: REUTERS/DAVID GRAY

South32, a supplier of coal to Eskom, has withdrawn its market guidance as it seeks clarity on the effect of the nationwide shutdown on its SA operations.

“South32 understands that businesses essential for the maintenance of power generation in SA are exempt from the lockdown,” the diversified miner said in a statement on Tuesday morning. “We will work with the government to determine the impact of this exemption on our SA Energy Coal and SA aluminium operations, given the role they play in the sustainability of Eskom’s generation network.”

The statement follows an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night that a 21-day nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, will commence at midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020.

South32 said it was still seeking clarification from the government that the lockdown will extend to its SA manganese business and has commenced planning to place its manganese ore operations and the remaining furnace at its Metalloys alloy  to be placed on care and maintenance.

As a result of the government’s announcement, South32 said it was withdrawing its guidance for the 2020 financial year for its SA operations and will update the market when further information becomes available.

 “To date, we have not yet experienced production interruptions from Covid-19 at any other operations,” said South32 CEO Graham Kerr. “We continue to monitor the impact of restrictions being placed on the movement of people and goods by governments across the world and will continue to update the market as appropriate.”

steynl@businesslive.co.za