Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’s radio anchor Xolani Gwala speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Gwala: Yet another South African company is using deadly gases to produce electricity at prices well below the Eskom tariff.
Creamer: This time it is Sibanye Gold and it’s at Beatrix mine in the Free State where they have a problem with methane. Between the years 1983 and 2001, that gas killed 40 miners so it is a deadly gas and they have decided to turn it to positive account.
They began by flaring it for which they earned credits in the clean development mechanism system where you can sell this. Now they are going one step further and they are actually producing electricity from this and they will be doing it from the end of the month.
It will help them in their work as a gold miner down in the Free State. First producing about 2 MW of electricity and then going on getting more of this deadly methane gas and producing another two megawatts which represents about 5%.
The interesting thing is again they are producing this at lower cost then the Eskom tariff. So they are buying electricity at about 57 cents a kilowatt hour from Eskom and they need 82 MW from Eskom. They will be producing at a third lower then at about 37 cents per kilowatt hour.
So it is a similar story, which we saw out in Meyerton, where BHP Billiton, the worlds biggest mining company, in beneficiating manganese decided to produce more of its own energy, 20% self sufficiency, out at Metalloys, in Meyerton. They do it at the amazingly low cost of 1 cent a kilowatt hour and they are using carbon monoxide.
Gwala: 1 cent per kilowatt hour. We can only dream of that we will never get there.
South Africa’s first fly farm is being developed in Cape Town.
Creamer: Crazy, we normally shoo all the flies away, but this guy is saying, flies, come this way. That is the British entrepreneur, Jason Drew, and he has got this new company, AgriProtein, and, with Stellenbosch University, he has been researching the protein you can get out of flies.
The idea came to him when he was an abattoir he saw a pool of blood in the abattoir and all these flies feeding on the blood. He said why don’t we get this abattoir waste and attract the flies so that we can get the protein. Of course, against the background of when you go fly-fishing they put a fly on the hook they catch the fish, the fish like flies.
That is the thinking behind it and fishmeal is getting so expensive and that is using fish to feed fish. So, it is not such a good idea in this world at the moment. They are saying that they can create protein at far lower cost far more efficiently and we can feed this to the fish and the chickens.
The chickens also scratch in the sand and they eat the worms so they are looking for that sort of protein. What they do is that they attract the flies through nutrient recycling they get all the waste material particularly from abattoirs and then they keep flies for obviously rehatching of eggs, but most of the others go into larvae which is then produced into a protein meal and sold into the market.
They are doing it on a very small trial scale at the moment, but they now are designing a much bigger plant in which they will invest about R57-million.
Gwala: A London-listed diamond miner is developing a diamond beneficiation factory in neighbouring Lesotho.
Creamer: We talk this word beneficiation and it is on the lips of many people in government in South Africa and want to promote it, but, of course, it can only be done if there is a business case.
We see now with Gem Diamonds, the London-listed mining company with the highest diamond mine in the world in the Maluti Mountains, in Lesotho. It is the highest diamond mine and they also get the highest prices because they get fantastic diamonds there. At one stage it used to belong to De Beers.
The Letseng mine is now 70% owned by the London-listed Gem Diamonds and 30% by the government of Lesotho. The feeling has been for a long time that they should do more in Lesotho because the value of these diamonds are so high, that if they beneficiate more, the government of Lesotho is also going to benefit as a 30% shareholder.
They are setting up a manufacturing plant. It is a challenge and we’ve seen a few casualties in South Africa who tried to do that, but I think with the source of diamonds coming through in quite large quantities and high value diamonds they should stand a very good chance.
So they are going ahead with it, that is Gem Diamonds, the London-listed company, headed by Clifford Elphick, who also was a South African formerly employed in Anglo American group.
Gwala: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.