Eskom Holdings Ltd., the South African state-run utility bought 2 million metric tons of export-grade coal last year to try to alleviate the electricity crisis.
Eskom Holdings Ltd., the South African state-run utility that is rationing power to mines and smelters, said it bought 2 million metric tons of export-grade coal last year to try to alleviate the electricity crisis. ?Eskom bought approximately 2 million tons of coal whose quality could have been improved to meet export requirements,? the company said in an e-mailed response to questions late yesterday. ?Eskom bought unbeneficiated export-grade coal.? Beneficiation refers to processing needed to improve the coal.
Most of South Africa"s mines and smelters closed for five days in January last year after the country"s power system almost collapsed, partly because coal stockpiles at some plants operated by Johannesburg-based Eskom were nearly exhausted. Exports from Richards Bay Coal Terminal on South Africa"s northeast coast fell 6.6 percent last year to 61.79 million tons.
Eskom, which generates about 90 percent of its power from coal, has stepped up purchases of the fuel, increasing stocks at plants to an average of 37 days of use. While Eskom"s plants are designed to use lower-grade coal than the fuel that South Africa ships abroad, the company said last year it was in talks to buy export-quality coal that could be blended with lower grades.
The purchases didn"t affect shipments from South Africa, the biggest source of the fuel for European power plants, Eskom said.
?The coal purchased was over and above what was mined for export purposes and was available on the open market,? it said. ?The Eskom purchases did not negatively impact on the mines ability to export.?
Some equipment was temporarily diverted to mine coal for Eskom rather than for export, Ben Magara, the head of Anglo American Plc"s coal unit in South Africa, said Feb. 19 last year.
Richards Bay"s exports were hurt by erratic rail deliveries, the terminal said this week. Eskom burnt 125.3 million tons of coal in the financial year ended March 31 last year.