Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: Black-controlled mining company Exxaro has hit the high spots with the introduction of South Africa’s first ‘smart’ mine.
Creamer: Mxolisi Mgojo is really leading the way. He is now president of the Minerals Council South Africa, but he is also one of the early movers in Exxaro, which is a black-controlled company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and this week launched a digital mine in Mpumalanga. The Belfast mine in which it is investing R3.3-billion is going to be directed by artificial intelligent (AI) the Internet of Things, everything that is modern. They’ve leapt right into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This will mean that even in the future that disabled people will be able to be involved in mining, because of all the assistance they have with all this digitisation. It is a great move forward and no other operation in South Africa has actually reached that stage. We must take our hats off to Mxolisi Mgojo. We know that he was from KwaZulu-Natal, his father was a minister of religion and went into the America’s while Mxolisi was still a young boy.
Of course, Mxolisi had his early education in the States, did his university in America and did a BSc in technical side of things. Now, he is introducing that very much into South Africa. He has got great plans for further entry in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the field of energy, water and food, because we know the mining business has got a lot of land and he wants people to be involved there. He won’t be involved as a farmer, but he will be involved with the technology side of making farming very efficient.
Kamwendo: A strongly black-empowered mining company is taking steps to raise money in London for its modern new phosphates operation in the Western Cape.
Creamer: That is fantastic, it is the company Kropz and they have got strong black-empowerment. The empowerment comes through with African Rainbow Capital, which must not be confused with African Rainbow Minerals, but both of these are headed by Patrice Motsepe. They have invested in this phosphates mines processing plant in the Western Cape.
Phosphates is a very important commodity, because it contains the phosphorus that the human race needs to actually survive. They are going to go to London and list on the AIM in London. Their initial idea will be to raise between R800- and R900-million so that they can complete the fantastic mining operation that they have got in the Western Cape. It is almost done already, in fact, so they will also be using the money to go elsewhere. They will go from Western Cape to West Africa. They have already got exploration rights there in the Ghana area and they are looking for more.
All of their assets are very close to ports, which is very wise, because this is a commodity which needs to be sent into the world. It also needs to be sent into South Africa. We know that we import a lot of our fertiliser and this is something that we should not be doing. We have our own phosphates now in Palaborwa and that is State-owned through Foskor, but what is going to happen now, is Kropz, in the Western Cape, a third of what they produce will be sent out of Saldanha Bay by ship to Richards Bay and then sold to Foskor so that we can keep some of this material in our country. It is very important to keep this.
This is also very good material, because it is low in cadmium and we see the European Union is stopping high cadmium phosphates from coming into Europe, because this is not good for ones health, it gets into the plants and then it can be cancer producing. People are saying this particular product coming out of the Western Cape is top notch, because of its low cadmium content and also the fact that it is so important for Africa that we get these things going.
Kamwendo: The Bafokeng community is buying full control of a platinum mine by taking over the shareholding currently held by Anglo American.
Creamer: The Bafokeng is admired by a lot of communities. The Bafokeng community have been taking strides to get ownership of land and this was done a long time ago. They were influenced by the Lutheran ministry who said to them 100 years ago that in the modern world, you need to get title of the land, you must not just occupy the land.
You must go to the government and get title. They took that seriously and the chief of the time sent his impy to Kimberley to do diamond mining. The instruction was that the moment you raise enough money to buy this land, you run back here, you give us the money and we buy the land. That was an incredible investment, because beneath that Rustenburg area is the richest treasure chest of platinum. Now we see this community taking another step forward in the field of platinum.
They had 67% of the Bafokeng Rasimone mine and Anglo American had the remaining 33%. Now, they have persuaded Anglo American to accept R1.8-billion so that they can take full control of this. It is seen as a ‘see through’ discount of about 15%, because the Bafokeng already have got such a good idea of this mine that they are already managing. We know it is close to their Styldrift project, which is going to be a wonderful platinum mine. There is also extra exploration going there.
So this really reinforces their position in platinum and it takes the asset over from Anglo American Platinum, which can now use its capital for the projects that it owns 100% of.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.