Several platinum mines in South Africa have been blaming the country’s energy crisis on Eskom for its underperformance in production. According to the World Platinum Investment Council, platinum is expected to hit a 303 koz deficit this year, partly owing to Eskom’s load-shedding which impeded the output of refined, saleable metal. Mines such as Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, Sibanye-Stillwater and Royal Bafokeng Platinum have all cited Eskom-related power cuts as having contributed to the decrease in production. Precious metals consultant Dr. David Davis stated in an Auctus Metal Portfolios report that Anglo American Platinum, as an intensive energy user, operates on the basis of load curtailment rather than timed power cuts as per nonindustrial load-shedding requirements.
The decrease in production at these platinum mines could have a significant impact on the environment. As primary supply is unlikely to increase, recycling PGMs may become increasingly important to the fortunes of the precious metals industry. However, this may not be enough to offset the decline in production caused by Eskom’s load-shedding. Furthermore, the fact that Eskom’s emergency power generated from open-cycle diesel-fuelled gas turbines will not be available for the next four months could lead to an even greater decline in production.