eskom load shedding level 3

Eskom struggles to mitigate load shedding / Image via Adobe Stock

Eskom set to spark dialogue at Southern African Coal Conference 2020

Informing coal market decisions over the past 15 years, the three-day conference kicked off on Wednesday in Cape Town.

eskom load shedding level 3

Eskom struggles to mitigate load shedding / Image via Adobe Stock

The 15th Southern African Annual Coal Conference (SAACC) has kicked off on Wednesday 29 January at The Westin Cape Town and boasts up to 5 000 delegates, as well as up to 50 exhibitors. 

This year, according to and IHS Market, top Eskom officials, coal leaders and industry experts will provide their insight on Eskom’s future and how it could impact the industry.

The conference will take place over three days until Friday 31 January. 

Eskom viewed as biggest risk to coal industry

The future of South Africa’s heavily indebted power utility, Eskom is considered the biggest risk not only for the coal industry but the entire country. 

Southern African Coal Report editor-in-chief Randy Fabi said that the most important thing to the coal industry is the future of Eskom. 

“Eskom is the biggest coal buyer in South Africa, buying half of all production. That’s about 125 million tons a year,” he said.  

“The future of Eskom is definitely critical to the future of the industry. The industry really wants to know what’s going to happen next and what they can expect so this is one of the main topics we will be looking at at the Cape Town conference,” added Fabi.

Ramaphosa’s emergency measures to save Eskom 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a series of emergency measures to save Eskom, including the unbundling of the utility into three separate businesses.

At IHS Markit’s Southern African Coal Conference, Ramaphosa’s administration unveiled its long-term energy policy, detailing the country’s expected energy mix for the next decade. In the integrated resource plan, coal’s dominance will ease with the retirement of old power plants, but the fossil fuel will still remain by far the biggest contributor to Eskom’s power stations. 

After 2030, renewables, nuclear and natural gas will take centre stage and coal’s phase-out will begin to speed up.

Coal: Difference in opinion 

According to the, South Africa is proving to be an interesting and diverse market for coal.

“Currently, the industry is facing a future of continued high coal prices and limited high-quality coal, opening up unprecedented opportunities for major producers and junior miners to expand, develop, and profit,” it said.

However, there are those who see no opportunities for the expansion of the industry as it would only lead to destruction.

According to the Cape Argus, Extinction Rebellion spokesperson Jade Vester said that to avoid community protests, the organisers of the conference have deliberately moved the venue to Cape Town, 1 700km away from the affected communities, and therefore too far for protesters to travel.

“Coal is the dirtiest and most destructive energy source in the world, contributing 40% to the world’s carbon-dioxide emissions. This makes coal a major factor in our global climate emergency, which scientists say is an existential threat to humanity as a whole and may lead to the deaths of millions of people over the next decades if emissions are not cut dramatically,” she added. 

Highlights from the 2019 coal conference 

The conference, for 15 consecutive years, has produced the most relied-upon educational and networking event for the Southern African coal market. Here are some of the highlights from the 2019 conference:

  • Direct address by ministers, CEOs and other high-level executives;
  • Standing-room-only sessions to hear from industry leaders about the latest developments in the political, investment and legal framework for coal mining in Southern African countries;
  • Engaging easily with other delegates and speakers through the many networking events, session Q&A opportunities, audience polling and the event app.

Who should attend?

  • CEOs / COOs;
  • Coal traders;
  • Commercial planning managers;
  • Contract managers;
  • Fuel analysts;
  • Fuel procurement managers;
  • Managing directors;
  • Market research directors;
  • Marketing managers; and
  • Sales/business development directors.