Perlman: A power station in the Drakensberg mountain using pumped water. Tell us about that.
Creamer: South Africa is looking to another pumped-storage scheme in the Drankensberg. This would become South Africa’s fourth pumped-storage scheme overall. The pumped-storage scheme consists of an upper reservoir and a lower reservoir with a power station in between. The purpose of this power station is to supply electricity during peak periods, then when supply is in excess and there is small demand, surplus electricity will be used to pump the water back up to the upper reservoir once again and this cycle will keep repeating itself. This is what they are planning in the Drankensberg. They are looking to 2012 as the commissioning date. At the moment the National Electricity Regulator has given Eskom permission to appoint a consultancy to do the basic engineering design. Significantly it hasn’t appointed Eskom and given Eskom permission to build and operate this scheme, significantly leaving the way open for private-sector involvement in what will be a R4,2-billion project and the date 2012. It is important that we increase power generation capacity in South Africa where there could be a shortage looming.
Perlman: Staying with the theme of power but looking at a regional initiative – Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania are working together.
Creamer: That’s right. Zambia, with all its water, is blessed with a lot of hydro-power capacity. Zambia only needs 1 200 MW of power for itself, but Zambia is generating 1 600 MW at the moment. So, the power authority there, which is now commercialised, is looking for outside markets and as it looks across its border into Kenya and Tanzania, it finds that they are power short, creating the ideal supply-demand match. Zambia has announced that they want to invest US$326-million in the construction of a big electrical interconnector. They want work to start on that in October and to fit in with their plans of commercialising their own operation earning foreign exchange for themselves from the sale of their hydroelectric power and giving a chance for their two neighbours to enhance their economies with greater electricity supply.
Perlman: Richards Bay, a crucial port, complains though that doesn’t always punch its weight moving goods in and out. I believe there are some changes afoot that might change that.
Creamer: There is a new bulk-handling terminal be built as we speak. Construction has started on that. It is a private sector initiative and R250-million are being spent on it. The investment is being made by new materials handler, RBC Distributors, which has been doing a lot of salt distribution for the last 18 months, but demand is now building up in other areas and they are going ahead with the construction of this bulk terminal to handle anthracite, coking coal, ferromanganese, titanium dioxide and urea, all speciality-type products. They are also asking the National Ports Authority for direct infrastructural link to the harbour and if approval for this link is forthcoming, linking infrastructure will be built concurrently. Grinaker LTA is on site, starting with construction of the bulk handling terminal, which should be completed by mid-2005, though even by June this year, there will be capacity for greater handling by RBC Distributors.
Perlman: Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.