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Gwede Mantashe sticks to his guns on coal

Business Maverick


Gwede Mantashe sticks to his guns on coal

File Photo: Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe ,July 17, 2018. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Antonio Muchave)

Energy is the key to South Africa’s economic growth, Energy Minister Gwede Manatashe announced at the opening of Africa Oil Week. While SA offers a myriad investment opportunities, he recognised that policy certainty was key to investment. And he stuck to his guns on coal.

It was perhaps fitting that Gwede Mantashe was decked out in a fiery red outfit as he opened the annual Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, because his remarks will make greens see red.

People want us to move at speed. They even want us to switch off all the coal-fired generators,” said the minister, adding that if that were to happen: “We’ll breathe the fresh air in darkness.” His message, delivered in his typically blunt manner, was that government would not sacrifice economic growth on the altar of environmentalism.

South Africa has 16 coal-fired power plants and vast deposits of coal. We recognise that coal must disappear, which it will over time, but it won’t be soon,” he said. “Instead, new investment will be directed at more efficient coal technology.”

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe opens the oil conference in Cape Town, 5 November 2019. Photo: Ed Stoddard

Gas also occupied the minister’s mind and he said 2024 would be the year “to open gas projects” in South Africa.

A liquified natural gas hub will be established at Coega in the Eastern Cape. “Here is an opportunity to invest and help develop the gas industry. The invitation is thrown at you, please take it. The sooner we develop this industry, the better,” the minister told the delegates.

Renewable energy was not forgotten, with Mantashe acknowledging that this was the fastest area of development in the country.

He also promised that legislation to enable the development of the oil and gas sector will be before Cabinet soon.

Mantashe ended his address with a plea to investors in the audience to sink capital into South Africa’s energy sector, otherwise “it will just be another talk shop” – Additional Reporting by Ed Stoddard. BM


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