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South Africa's power cuts put lives at risk

The energy minister told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the government accepted responsibility for the shortages and had not been timely in planning for the country's energy needs.

"We have been growing much more than we had anticipated. This growth in our economy is unprecedented in our country and as a result it has really affected an impacted our reserve margin," Buyelwa Patience Sonjica said.

"As we speak our reserve margin is between eight and 10 per cent when in reality the economy needs 15 per cent."

The oppostion says the government has been receiving warnings about an imminent power crisis for almost a decade but has failed to prevent it.

 

Gold production hit

South Africa is the world's second biggest producer of gold, and most of the country's mines ground to a halt amid electricity rationing last Friday.

 

The situation has driven up the price of gold and economists have warned that it could ultimately slow down the entire economy.

 

Some analysts say that the cuts could slash South Africa's growth to below 3 per cent this year, the lowest level in 14 years. 

   

Mining firms resumed production on Tuesday as state power utility Eskom pledged to restore 90 per cent of their electricity within days.

  

Alan Fine, a spokesman for AngloGold, said production had already resumed at Mponeng mine, near Carletonville, and the majority would be up and running by the end of the week.

  

"The rate at which we are going to ramp up production is very difficult to predict but we hope to be up to about 60 per cent by the end of the week," he said.