Eskom, which relies on coal for most of its power generation, says the strike will only have an effect if it becomes protracted
26 July, 2011
By Alistair Anderson, Business Day
Thousands of workers at coal companies including Xstrata, Anglo American, Exxaro Resources and Optimum Coal went on strike on Sunday evening demanding wage increases of 12%-14%.
WeatherSA yesterday warned that the snowfall over the Western Cape and Eastern Cape could reach Gauteng today. Several roads in the Eastern Cape have been closed since Sunday due to heavy snowfall.
Gauteng’s emergency services yesterday issued a warning to residents to keep warm and avoid hypothermia when the snow reached the province. But Gauteng consumers have been battling for weeks to secure gas for heaters and diesel for their generators.
This has fuelled fears that Eskom’s electricity supply may be hit by the coal strike.
Afrox , SA’s biggest supplier of liquefied petroleum gas, earlier this month said it expected to receive a consignment of imported gas at the end of the month to ease shortages. The company blamed the cold weather for the scarcity.
The coal industry strike has placed electricity supply under pressure. But Eskom, which relies on coal for most of its power generation, said the strike would have an effect only if it became protracted.
"We’ve got, on average, 38 days of coal stockpiles at the power stations," Eskom spokesman Tony Stott said yesterday.
"If the strike goes on for a long time and demand goes up due to cold weather, it would put the system under severe strain."
National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said yesterday that Eskom would not "be able to function" for longer than three weeks without coal miners. He warned that the strike would have "serious negative ramifications. Our members are working underground in the coal mine industry — they play the most important part in the coal chain. The entire economy depends on electricity."
WeatherSA said the intense low temperatures were expected to last at least until Thursday. With Sapa.