Big mining companies in SA are working on reducing their exposure to the vagaries of Eskom’s electricity supply and cost increases, with some well advanced in finding alternatives at lower prices. But others are reluctant to make the jump into contracts with independent power producers which would build, operate and supply dedicated energy at costs below that of Eskom — particularly in the three winter months when the utility slaps an additional tariff on to costs for major users. Their arguments include the reason that mine lives have to be in excess of 15 or 20 years to justify the expense of a large solar plant to reduce reliance on Eskom. Another argument advanced by Impala Platinum CEO Nico Muller is that with limited budgets in an environment in which the company was finalising two large new mines and closing or selling five old mines, a big solar project was simply unaffordable. “My concern is that with so many bulk consumers withdrawing from the grid or putting measures in p...

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