August 1, 2018 / 2:33 PM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Eskom says more South African power cuts likely due to protests

(Recasts after new Eskom statement)

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 1 (Reuters) - South Africa’s struggling state-owned power utility Eskom said there was a high risk of more electricity cuts on Wednesday evening after workers demanding higher wages protested for a third day.

Africa’s most industrialised economy was hit by controlled power cuts on Tuesday - for the second time in less than two months - after some units went down at Eskom power plants due to a wildcat strike and low coal levels.

As much as 2,000 megawatts of power could be cut on Wednesday if so-called “stage 2 load-shedding” was implemented, Eskom said in a statement.

The lingering threat of power cuts underlines the fragility of the company, which supplies around 90 percent of South Africa’s power, at a time when President Cyril Ramaphosa has made reforming cash-strapped state firms a priority.

In 2015, the last time recurring rolling blackouts occurred, South Africa’s economic output suffered.

Eskom said it would meet labour unions on Wednesday in an effort to resolve the standoff over wages.

“We are hopeful that all parties will put South Africa first as we endeavour in finding an amicable solution,” Eskom said.

Last week, Eskom said it was considering cutting staff and selling assets after posting a $171 million loss in the latest full financial year. (Reporting by Patricia Aruo Editing by Alexander Winning and Dale Hudson)

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