SA’s fuel imports to drop, metal refineries to continue
SA will curtail petroleum imports, keep limited coal production intact to supply Eskom and export markets, and keep smelters and refineries open as the country’s minerals sector enters a three-week lockdown, says mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
Fuel production, supply and sales remains an essential service during the 21-day lockdown starting on Friday morning, but SA will import less as the economy slows down as the government imposes the shutdown to curtail the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus.
“In the case of petroleum products, imports will be scaled back for the duration of the lockdown, as there will be excess capacity,” Mantashe said on Wednesday.
SA’s mines, which are the leading suppliers of platinum group metals (PGMs), chrome and manganese, as well as an important source of iron ore, coal and gold, will be reduced as mines are shut during the period.
“The processing of surface material in the PGMs sector will continue for the production of, among others, medical products,” Mantashe said.
“This will allow smelters, which cannot be switched on and off abruptly, to remain operational,” he said.
SA provides 4.4-million ounces of platinum out of global supplies of 6-million ounces a year, and 2.65-million ounces of palladium out of 6.9-million ounces.