President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to re-open the Grootvlei Power Station in Balfour, Mpumalanga, an event that is critical to South Africa’s drive to secure electrical power supply and keep the economy working.
The re-opening of the Grootvlei Power Station is linked to the planned re-launch of the Balfour Railway Line which is intended to ferry coal to the power station which was refurbished for about R7.2bn.
A statement issued by the Presidency today said the two projects form part of the Government’s Infrastructure Build Programme.
The statement said the return to service of the Grootvlei Power Station will assist with the electricity demand requirements on the National Grid by providing maintenance space for other power stations. The project also supports the road to rail migration plan as well as reduce the number of heavy haulage trucks damaging the roads in Mpumalanga province.
The statement said Grootvlei power station was built in the late 1960’s consisting of six coal fired units and has an installed capacity of 1200 megawatts. This station was mothballed in 1990 due to excess power at the time. Following a R7.2 billion upgrade the station has been returned to service. This is part of Eskom’s return-to-service projects which also included Camden and Komati power stations.
The statement added that in line with their own commitments to migrate freight volumes to rail, Transnet has re-instated the Grootvlei – Balfour rail line which is approximately 30 kilometres in length. This rail line will be capable of initially transporting three million tons of coal per annum to the Grootvlei power station.
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said “We expect the first phase of the project (rail line construction) to be completed by December this year and the second phase by April 2014.
The statement said the Grootvlei-Balfour railway line forms part of the broader branchline network. “In South Africa, branch lines total 7 000 kilometres in rail network whilst the core rail network is 12 800 kilometres in length”.
Branch lines form a critical link in the overall transportation system and are an integral component of the revitalisation of the freight traffic road to rail migration strategy. This rail network will contribute to local economic and socio-economic development of communities”.
The presidency said the two Balfour projects have contributed to lifting economic activity in the area. “In total over 200 jobs would have been created over the railway project’s lifespan. The Eskom power station project has seen 3 800 people employed during peak operations”.