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Record Blackouts Force South Africa Miners to Halt Work

Record Blackouts Force South Africa Miners to Halt Work

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South Africa’s biggest platinum and gold mining companies are scaling back some operations as record power cuts, now in their sixth day, start to cripple key parts of the economy.

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. on Monday moved to Stage 6 load-shedding from 6 p.m. local time, meaning it cut 6,000 megawatts from the national grid, the most yet, after a technical problem at the new Medupi Power Station. The utility has since downgraded the status to Stage 4.

Workers at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. didn’t start the 4 a.m. underground shift Tuesday and the company has stopped milling ore and shut its smelter, spokesman Johan Theron said by phone.

Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd. was still weighing plans to resume operations at nine underground mines shut down on Monday evening after state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. cut 6,000 megawatts from the national grid, spokeswoman Marian van der Walt said by phone Tuesday.

“Due to safety we decided not to allow people underground and may actually be doing the same today,” Van der Walt said. “We are still assessing, but things aren’t looking much different today.”

Sibanye Gold Ltd., the largest private-sector employer halted “all high energy-intensive activities” Monday evening, spokesman James Wellsted said. “We are stopping milling operations,” he added.

Petra Diamonds Ltd. stopped mining at its South African operations.

South Africa’s mining industry is a pillar of the economy despite its contribution to gross domestic product declining in recent years.

A spokeswoman for Anglo American Platinum Ltd. said she couldn’t immediately respond to emailed queries.

(Updates with companies’ comment from second paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Felix Njini in Johannesburg at fnjini@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Thomasson at lthomasson@bloomberg.net, Hilton Shone, Helen Nyambura

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