Eskom has paid R9.7bn in penalties on Medupi coal contract

South African power utility Eskom, which is struggling to find cash to keep its generators running, paid billions of rand in penalties on a coal contract at one of its newest plants.

The payments on Eskom’s take-or-pay contract at the Medupi plant for the dirtiest fossil fuel reached R9.7 billion in November, the company told parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday. The utility’s previous attempts to renegotiate the contract with Exxaro were rejected by the mining company.

A coal stockpile at the site stood at 17.6 million tons at the end of November, the utility said. “Eskom will, thus, incur further take-or-pay penalties if Medupi Power Station cannot burn the minimum contractual volumes.”

A spokesman for Exxaro declined to comment.

Medupi and Kusile are the newest coal-fired facilities owned by Eskom, but delays and defects at the plants have stifled their nearly 9 600 megawatts of combined capacity, leaving the nation more vulnerable to power outages.

Eskom also reported that negotiations for Kusile’s coal supply with Seriti Resources are advancing and the parties agreed to a three-year supply deal as they work on a decade-long contract. The company didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions.

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