Sunday, April 13, 2008

More (or less) Power to ya

Power is becoming a major topic of conversation here so I read with great interest the loss of BHP Billiton's business by Standard Bank because a senior executive from Standard Bank dared to suggest that BHP's smelters should be shut down to get South Africa out of it's electricity spiral. For a company to react as BHP did shows me two things, firstly the level of maturity of the top management of BHP is not what it should be and secondly, they (BHP) are clearly hyper sensitive to this issue. When people are this sensitive to something it usually means that they're in the wrong or guilty of whatever they are being accused of.

Maredi Mogodi, spokesperson for BHP, states that "the view was uninformed" so I would challenge BHP to put data in the public domain so that we, the public, can conduct an informed debate about the smelter's electricity usage.

Specifically, I would be very interested in the gross consumption in MW by individual smelters and the price paid to ESKOM for the electricity by month for the last two years. In addition, I would like to know how many people are employed at each smelter.

Of course, the first response as it is of all charlatans, is that this is private or privileged information to which I would say the following. BHP clearly knows that it doesn't get the cheapest power, how does it know that if it doesn't have access to other companies private or privileged information. Secondly, until the data becomes available we, the public, can make whatever claims we like because BHP is withholding the information that we require in order to make "informed decisions" as they say.

Reference : M&G 4 April 2008 "BHP says it does not get the cheapest power"

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