Eskom, Eskom, Eskom was the answer Orion Minerals CEO Errol Smart gave when asked about the risk to restarting the Prieska copper and zinc mine in the Northern Cape.  Orion is on the cusp of raising between R3.3bn and R3.9bn towards restarting the mothballed mine and building a processing plant, having concluded an R81m empowerment transaction to restructure the black ownership element of the company and underlying operating company. The R81m will be used to wrap up the project’s bankable feasibility study by the end of June, but Smart says he hopes this will be concluded by May. Electricity supply is the leading cause of concern for potential funders of the Prieska project, which will need 35MW of power, said Smart. State-owned power utility Eskom is struggling to keep up with electricity demand, while it has increased tariffs for mines by more than 500% since 2006 and has just been granted permission to hike prices by another 30% over the next three years. “We have eight or nine ...

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