Holdings SOC Ltd. may have to revise the commissioning date for
its Medupi coal-fired power plant to the first quarter of next
year, according to sources familiar with the project.
Medupi construction has been at
a standstill for more than a month due to a strike and
subsequent lockout over pay issues, which has put the date for
commissioning at the end of this year "under serious threat,"
an Eskom spokeswoman said, although the company has not revised
the timetable for commissioning.
For now, Eskom is still
officially set to commission Medupi in December 2013, she told
AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.
"Eskom is reviewing its schedule
as we speak, and they will make an announcement very, very soon
about this," another source close to the project said. "This is
a disaster for the country in more ways than one. Eskom wants
tariff increases. If this gets delayed, that is a lot more
likely to happen, plus we wont have the power supply we
were hoping to get from Medupi at the end of this year."
South Africa has severe
constrictions on its power supply. Ferroalloys producers have
signed buy-back agreements with Eskom, under which producers
have cut output and are selling electricity back to the
Sandton, South Africa-based state energy group. Eskom is now
seeking to lengthen the buy-back agreements (
amm.com, Jan. 24).
Medupi is expected to ease some
of the tightness in supply.
However, public enterprises
minister Malusi Gigaba conceded on national television that the
strike is affecting Medupis completion date, and the
government is considering more options to meet the December
deadline, including making money available to increase the
number of workers at the 100-billion-rand ($11.29-billion)
project. "We will need more man hours on site to recover lost
time and to ensure that the building process can make up for
the weeks that have been lost during the strike," he said.
However, the National Union of
Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) told Metal
Bulletin that the government has remained silent.
"The government is not playing a
role," Stephen Nhlapo, coordinator of base metals and energy at
Numsa, said. "We see them talk in the newspapers, but we want
them to come and talk to the people involved. There is no way
spending more money on more people will help if the conditions
on the ground dont improve."