Big power users, including mining houses who say load shedding will be the death of the industry, say they want government to move faster with new self-generation regulations because they no longer want to be at the mercy of Eskom.

Reporting to president Cyril Ramaphosa at the Business Unity South Africa’s (BUSA) Economic Indaba, companies who were locked in the energy crisis breakaway discussion asked for the fast-tracking of deregulation of private sector generation.

Many companies want to build their own renewable energy plants to reduce their reliance on Eskom but have not been able to secure the necessary regulatory approvals.

Fumani Mthembi, founder and director of Pele Energy Group, said large power users also felt it would be best if key decisions regarding SA’s energy mix and transition to cleaner energies were within the president’s direct control, reports Fin24.

“The private sector, community and households need to be given the opportunity to invest in their own power generation,” said Mthembi.

Industries like mining and manufacturing have suffered the brunt of SA’s power supply crisis, being forced to halt operations repeatedly in December as Eskom took the step of instituting stage 6 load shedding.

Eskom also brought power cuts back in January ahead of what President Ramaphosa had promised the nation.

Exxaro Resources CEO, Mxolisi Mgojo, said instability of our power supply in SA, as well as the cost of electricity, has meant that mining companies cannot process their minerals in the country.

“It has necessitated a lot of our mining companies who otherwise would be willing and wanted to continue beneficiating their ores here in South Africa, to start exporting those beneficiation possibilities externally because you can’t rely on electricity and it’s very expensive.”

He also warned that the current state of Eskom would be the final factor to bring an already ailing mining industry on its knees.

“Without fixing Eskom, we don’t have a mining industry. It is as dire as that,” said Mgojo.

“With the recent load shedding where you get a call that says ‘please start turning off all unnecessary and auxiliary activities within your mine and we are no sure when you can bring them back. You cannot invest in operating in an environment like that.”

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