Coal silo collapse leaves many in the dark

By Drum Digital
02 November 2014

"The conveyer belt systems, which feeds coal to the power station, were damaged and therefore we can't get coal into the power station."

The coal storage silo at Eskom's Majuba power station in Mpumalanga has collapsed, the parastatal said on Sunday.

"The silo ruptured or cracked and so employees were evacuated... and it just collapsed," Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said.

Before the collapse Majuba supplied 3600MW, roughly 10 percent of the country's electricity capacity, Etzinger said.

He said Eskom would bring mobile coal conveyer belts from other stations to Majuba as a temporary solution, but this would take time.

Earlier, the power utility said a crack in a coal storage silo on Saturday afternoon caused the loss of 1800MW of Majuba's total capacity.

Eskom said rolling blackouts were expected across the country on Sunday and the entire week. Blackouts would happen between 8am and 10pm.

The silo, which stores over 10,000 tons of coal, cracked on Saturday afternoon, affecting coal supplies to all six units at the power station.

Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and Cape Town residents were warned of power cuts.

City Power had been asked to cut back on 460MW, Johannesburg's power utility said in a statement.

The Ekurhuleni municipality said Eskom had asked it to help reduce the load on its electricity network.

"Since 8.30am this morning, the [municipality] has been undertaking this load reduction exercise by following the load shedding schedules available on the municipality's website," it said in a statement.

The City of Cape Town received a similar request from the national power utility.

"Residents and suburbs may be affected at their indicated times, depending on the current demand from Eskom," it said.

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