De Beers suspends S.A. mining operations

Due to a severe national power shortage in South Africa, De Beers suspended all of its major mining operations in the country.

The state power company, Eskom, requested that the mining giant immediately reduce consumption of power from the national grid to an absolute minimum.

De Beers Consolidated Mines has reduced its consumption to what is it terms as “survival load,” and has ceased production from its six South African mines: Venetia, Finsch, Kimberley, Cullinan, The Oaks, and Namaqualand, De Beers said in a statement. Survival load is the use of sufficient power to avoid risk to employees and property, and to maintain, in the case of De Beers’ two underground operations—Finsch and Cullinan Diamond Mine—safe underground working conditions at those mines until power is fully restored. 
 
Eskom, in its own statement, requested “the full co-operation of mining operations” as the company’s power supply is “exhausted” due to a “generation deficiency.” Depleted coal stockpiles, load losses, and wet coal were some of the reasons cited by the power company.

The company went on to say that its reserves are in short supply and that it cannot guarantee electricity at this time.

De Beers said mining operations will be managed in a state of operational readiness to continue with operations at a later stage. Essential ventilation, pumping and lighting, and all safety related services will continue, while regular operations will cease. Only essential staff are working.

“De Beers, as a member of the Chamber of Mines, is in discussion with Eskom and the government about the anticipated length of the cut in power,” De Beers said. “We have initially been advised to prepare for contingencies for a cut in power that may last for some time and are awaiting further information from Eskom.

“De Beers is currently engaging with its employees, and is investigating opportunities to use this serious interruption as productively as possible. In the interim, activities not dependent on electricity, such as plant maintenance, will continue, as will some surface mining and hauling operations.”