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Rio Tinto walks away from Coega smelter. Thanks, Eskom.

Rio Tinto walks away from Coega smelter. Thanks, Eskom.

The most important draw card of the Coega industrial development zone outside Port Elizabeth, the aluminium smelter Rio Tinto was to build at a cost of more than $3 billion, has been cancelled. It had to happen. Rio Tinto can’t get the guaranteed power it needs; not at a decent price anyway. The government can’t afford to turn off the lights in homes and other factories while providing uninterrupted supply to anything that wasn’t grandfathered in. And Eskom can do with not having to worry about the voracious appetite of a new smelter in the middle of nowhere if you consider the geography of its generation assets. Does this leave Coega a white elephant? A deep-water port is valuable in and of itself, but without the smelter there’ll be one helluva lot less to ship in and out.


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