South African power utility Eskom is seeking up to 3 million tonnes of coal a year for nine years from the end of 2015 for its Duvha plant in the east of the country, a tender document on its website showed on Monday. Coal suppliers have until June 10 to submit proposals. The deteriorating quality of coal supplied to South African power plants has been harming their performance and the already strained supply of power, Eskom said last year. The tender is part of its efforts to secure long-term contracts for quality coal at a competitive price. The utility has been struggling to obtain all the coal it needs as miners have increasingly focused on exports, aiming to get higher returns in Asia. Eskom has also complained of having to pay for domestic coal at international prices.
Eskom, which supplies 95 percent of South Africa's power, is spending 460 billion rand ($65.47 billion) to build new power plants and meet fast-rising demand for electricity in Africa's largest economy. The utility is keen to avoid a repeat of a power crisis which forced mines and smelters to shut for days in early 2008 and cost South Africa billions of dollars in lost output. Coal producers in South Africa include Anglo American, Exxaro, Optimum Coal, BHP Billiton and African Rainbow Minerals.