Medupi start-up delayed to mid-2014

By: Terence Creamer | 8th July 2013 | Engineering News

State-owned power utility Eskom confirmed on Monday that it would not be in a position to meet the end of year deadline for the flow of first power from the Medupi power station.

CEO <strong>Brian Dames</strong> reported that, following an independent assessment and fresh delays to the control and instrumentation contract, a new, “realistic”, timeframe had been set for the second half of 2014.

The power station was meant to supply first power to the grid by December 2013, a deadline reaffirmed as non-negotiable earlier this year by Public Enterprises Minister <strong>Malusi Gigaba</strong>.

Dames also confirmed that the cost of the project had increased from R91.2-billion to R105-billion, excluding interest during construction. In 2008, when the main boiler, turbine and civil contracts had been placed, Medupi’s cost was estimated at R87-billion and was revised to R91.2-billion in June 2012.


SA’s energy resources key for economic growth

Engineering News 24 June 2013.

South Africa, with its vast renewable energy resources such as solar power, has the potential to become one of the world’s fastest growing economic hubs, said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Delivering the keynote address at the South African Youth Council-organised South African Green Energy Youth Summit on Monday, Motlanthe said South Africa’s future energy plans provided for a significant departure from the global paradigm. However, this did not mean that South Africa would abandon coal as a source of energy…


better coal or bitter coal?

Better Coal is a new initiative established by a group of major utilities to promote the continuous improvement of corporate responsibility in the coal supply chain, with a specific focus on the mines themselves.

Find out if Better Coal is just another green washing initiative…

Bitter Coal
Bitter Coal is the reaction of the German NGO urgewald (the report is currently only available in German).

Coal for Eskom now top priority

06 May | Engineering News

SUN CITY ( – Securing coal for Eskom was now the number-one priority, South African Coal Roadmap chairperson Ian Hall said on Tuesday.

Addressing the twelfth Coaltrans Southern Africa coal conference at Sun City, the Anglo American Thermal Coal Projects GM said Eskom needed 60-million tons a year of new-mine coal to come on stream in the next few years and 120-million tons before 2020.

While a key requirement was to get the new mines up and running by 2015, water-use licences and environmental authorisations might present greater delays than obtaining mining rights.

“There’s not even a mandatory response time for water-use licences,” he added. Continue reading

Eskom concerned that domestic coal prices may migrate to export levels

Engineering News 24 April 2013.

State-owed electricity utility Eskom has again appealed for a domestic coal-pricing regime that is premised on an “efficient and transparent cost, with a fair return” rather than one that migrates towards export parity-price (EPP) levels.

Should such a migration occur, upward pressure would be placed on Eskom’s costs and on South Africa’s already fast-rising power tariffs.

It calculates that an increase in the price from current levels to an EPP of R600/t delivered for the 30-million tons it currently purchases yearly through short-term contracts, will result in a 5% increase in its total operating cost, which stands at 56.4 c/kWh…

(Contributor’s note: The DOE and Eskom were both warned that coal prices were volatile at the time of the IRP2010 consultations – the warnings were brushed aside. With China building coal power stations at an unbelievable rate, the coal price has to go up. With our GDP stagnating, South Africa has to get as much for its coal as it can and not subsidise the DOE’s energy policy mistakes.)


Underground coal gas power project on cards in Free State

Engineering News 24 April 2013.

JOHANNESBURG ( – A project that will supply underground coal gas from a deep, stranded coal deposit in the Free State to an independent power producer (IPP) is at an advanced stage of planning.

Former Sasol executives Johan Brand and Eliphus Monkoe, who bought 1.4-billion tons of coal near Theunissen from BHP Billiton, have teamed up as African Carbon Energy (Africary), which has been operating since 2007.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed with a still-to-be-named IPP, which will build, own and operate a 50 MW combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant and buy the underground coal gasification- (UCG-) produced syngas as a fuel gas from Africary.

“We will be transforming the face of coal mining and electricity production in South Africa,” Brand told Mining Weekly Online in an interview on the sidelines of the Fossil Fuel Foundation UCG workshop on Wednesday…

(Contributor’s note: What about doing an EIA? What about their carbon emissions? What about fugitive emissions? What about water usage? What about the air pollution from the incineration of the waste condensate? What about jumping through all the hoops that the renewable energy IPPs had to?)


Numsa wants centralised wage talks for Medupi, Kusile and Ingula

Sarah Evans | 15 April 2013 | M&G

National Union of Metal Workers SA has proposed one centralised negotiation for wage disputes at Eskom’s Medupi, Kusile and Ingula projects

Workers returned to the Eskom’s Kusile mega power station plant on Monday as unions prepare for a week of talks aimed at resolving an ongoing labour dispute.

Workers downed tools on Thursday citing a breakdown in talks over food, accommodation and other working conditions, sparking fears of a prolongued labour dispute mirroring that at Kusile’s twin station, Medupi.

Workers are also unhappy at being accommodated near a sewerage plant.

National Union of Metal Workers South Africa’s (Numsa) national basic metals and energy sector coordinator, Stephen Nhlapo, said a committee of stakeholders would hold talks throughout the week in an effort to speed up negotiations. He said all workers were on site on Monday having returned on the understanding that negotiations were under way.

Meanwhile, Numsa wants a central document to guide the employment conditions of all construction industry workers, as the government embarks on its multibillion-rand infrastructure development build.

Nhlapo said the proposal, which would centralise working conditions on both public and private sector projects, would be put to Numsa’s membership at its shopstewards bargaining council meeting this week.

Nhlapo said the union hoped to pre-empt the outbreak of pocketed labour unrest on construction projects, thereby speeding up construction. Medupi, for example, is 18 months behind schedule.

The union also hopes to talk stakeholders into centralising talks at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula, Eskom’s pumped storage programme in KwaZulu-Natal. Nhlapo said workers’ complaints were the same at all three projects and that there was no need to hold three separate sets of negotiations to resolve the complaints.

On Wednesday, it is hoped that subcontractors, who are not involved in all three projects, will agree to centralised talks, he said.

Meanwhile, “95%” of workers have returned to the Medupi site in Limpopo following 10 weeks of labour disputes, according to Numsa. Nhlapo said only minor issues relating to workers’ conditions remained to be ironed out on site. These included what was to happen to workers who were suspended during the strike action, he said.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba visited the Medupi site on Thursday for an inspection. He remained adamant that the plant would be operational by December.