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SA gold and platinum majors ramping up
by Tessa Kruger

As South African mines get improved power supply, one major gold company says it will take it one to two weeks to reach optimum production at 90% power supply again.

South African mining companies were building up to optimum production levels at 90% of power supply yesterday as Eskom finally delivered on its supply commitment.

Anglo Platinum (JSE:AMS) was "building up" to resume concentrating refining and smelting activities, while Gold Fields was in the build-up phase to achieve optimum production at the reduced power level.

Gold Fields (JSE:GFI) spokesperson Reidwaan Wookay, told Mineweb that the organisation would naturally not run at full production on 90% of its average power use, but it was building up to reach sustained production.

Wookay said it would take Gold Fields about a week to two weeks to reach a sustainable production level after its mines were "switched off" a week ago. Mines across the South African mining industry came to a standstill last Friday as Eskom couldn't guarantee uninterrupted power supply and requested some to run at emergency power levels.

He said that Gold Fields was in constant dialogue with the power provider and was still pressing for continuous power supply. The power utility did previously commit to give mines at least four hours warning before power supply was shut down or reduced.

Gold Fields appeared to be alarmed after it received only 80% power supply Thursday as it issued a statement that said it wanted Eskom to guarantee it 90% supply. Supply was increased to 90% Thursday night and remained at this level Friday.

Anglo Platinum spokesperson Trevor Raymond said the company was mining underground at 100% capacity at the moment and would start concentrating, refining and smelting next week.

He said last week's events of power cuts "precipitated the crises"; the mining industry and Eskom has decided how to address it and now it was up to the two parties to make it work. Raymond referred to the industry's agreement to use 10% less power than its average power use.

Spokesperson for the Chamber of Mines Jabu Maphalala said 90% of power supply had been restored to the industry. The Chamber worked with Eskom to reach this agreement and was standing on Eskom's commitment to sustain this level of supply.

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