South African mining companies want to start generating their own power

South African mining companies plan to build 609 megawatts of electricity generating capacity, if they can get official approval for the projects.

The mainly photovoltaic solar projects would generate power for the miners’ own use, according to the Minerals Council, which represents the biggest mining companies operating in the country.

South Africa has been beset by power cuts as state power utility, Eskom, struggles to maintain its fleet of coal-fired power stations and pay down debt.

The Minerals Council said the following companies have plans to build their own power stations:

Sibanye Gold Ltd. has environmental and ministerial approval for the first 50-megawatt module of its planned plant, but needs permission for at least another 150 megawatts to make the project economically viable, said James Wellsted, a company spokesman.

The project will be financed and managed by a ‘third party’, he said.

Users generating as much as 10 megawatts for their own consumption should be exempt from requiring licenses, said Wido Schnabel, chairman of the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association.

“For those who can build bigger than that, award those licenses,” he said. The process to procure more generating capacity must happen as soon as possible, Schnabel said. “We’re wasting days.”

Read: Eskom CEO says it will cost R18 billion to bring independents onto the power grid

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South African mining companies want to start generating their own power