Minerals Council announces support for South Africa’s transition away from coal

South Africa’s main industry body for the mining sector has made a statement supporting the country’s transition away from coal-fired power via a gradual and responsible process.

In a presentation to South Africa’s Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission late last week, Minerals Council South Africa said that 60% of the nation’s US$302 billion economy is reliant on energy produced from coal.

“This energy and associated energy intensive complex helped to develop the most industrialised country in Africa,” Minerals Council chief executive Roger Baxter said in his presentation. “We support the transition to a low-carbon economy and society – contingent on doing it judiciously and systemically.”

Baxter said businesses that rely on energy sourced from coal account for 45% of employment and 70% of exports. Meanwhile, mining and the industries that rely on it add $54 billion in value to the South African economy.

The coal industry also accounts for the livelihoods of 450,000 households in the Province of Mpumalanga, where most coal mines and coal-fired power plants are located. Herein lies the challenge in managing South Africa’s transition to renewables, which provided just 5.6% of the country’s power last year.

At the same event, senior economist at Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies Neva Makgetla said the transition away from coal will cost 12,000 jobs by 2030 and between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs in the 2030s.