UPDATE 1-Fire interrupts coal supply to S.Africa's 2nd biggest power plant

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JOHANNESBURG, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A fire struck South Africa’s second biggest power station on Wednesday, interrupting coal delivery to the 4,000 megawatt Majuba plant, state utility Eskom said.

Eskom said the fire had been extinguished but had affected the conveyer belt at the rail offloading facility, so it would have to use road delivery of coal instead.

“We will have to wait for the facility to cool down in order to start a forensic investigation to determine the cause of the fire,” Eskom said in a statement.

It added that Majuba power station’s coal stock is healthy, at more than 50 days worth.

Eskom has been beset by technical and financial difficulties that have caused rolling power blackouts across Africa’s most industrialised nation this year. Last week heavy rains partly shut down operations at its coal fired Medupi plant, wiping thousands of megawatts off the grid and causing unprecedented levels of power cuts.

The state-owned utility produces more than 90% of South Africa’s power but has struggled to keep up with demand for the past decade. It remains one of the biggest headaches for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who came to power nearly two years ago vowing to reverse years of mismanagement at South Africa’s state owned enterprises. (Reporting by Tim Cocks Editing by Chris Reese and Elaine Hardcastle)