Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe revealed during president’s Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate that 60 mining projects with an investment value of R110 billion, which could create 32 000 jobs, were on the horizon.
However, he added that ensuring reliable electricity supply was very crucial in the energy sector’s growth because mines only operated at 75 percent during load shedding season.
He explained: “Top of the list is ensuring that the energy security of supply through long term planning, and that’s why the amount of money the president committed to reviving Eskom is so important.”
Mantashe was defending the decision by the government to further fund Eskom through an urgent Special Appropriation Bill, which is set to be tabled in Parliament.
The Special Appropriation Bill is expected to “allocate a significant portion of the R230 billion fiscal support that Eskom will require over the next 10 years in the early years”.
Ramphosa said: “The utility’s financial position remains a matter of grave concern”.
Also, in February, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said Eskom would be allocated R69 billion financial support over the next three years by National Treasury in order to service the debts of the troubled power company.
Mboweni clarified that the financial support was not a bailout.
Ramaphosa said that this was a committed funding to ensure that Eskom had enough money to meet its obligations until the end of October 2019.
“For Eskom to default on its loans will cause a cross-default on its remaining debt and would have a huge impact on the already constrained fiscus,” Ramaphosa said.
On Tuesdays during the SONA debate, Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan said that they had made a lot of progress on the plan to restructure Eskom.
He also assured the public that they will work hard to ensure that Eskom remained a reliable and sustainable supply of electricity in the country.
“Today, Eskom has successfully managed the system in terms of its Winter Plan, for 94 days without load shedding.
“A new head for generation was appointed last week. Of Eskom’s fifteen coal-fired power stations, 10 now have permanent power station managers with full authority,” he explained.