Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’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: Just before we get into it Martin, this Tweet here from Azania’ Native says I love how Martin from the Coalface emphasises some words when he speaks. I find it extremely refreshing and funny. So, clearly you have a fan base out there.
Creamer: That is great to hear Sakina.
Kamwendo: Let’s start off with what’s happening in the Limpopo and Northern Cape. Iron-ore from Limpopo and the Northern Cape has so far generated a staggering R23.5-billion in dividends for black shareholders.
Creamer: We are talking about Kumba Iron Ore, which again this week put in another R1.8-billion to its black shareholders out of the five billion dividends that it declared. This R23.5-billion comes over eight years, they listed eight years ago, and it represents more then we paid for the ten stadiums for the World Cup soccer.
This is an enormous amount of money and it all comes out of the ground. If you can turn that to account positively and the world prices are good, it just shows you what can come back, because the community through the trust that they have of which they own 3%. This is a constant ongoing never ceasing flow of capital and coming into that also is 3% owned by the community, so this is broad-based.
Then you get Kumba, who receives its black-economic empowerment from Exxaro, because Exxaro is a black-controlled company, so it confers BEE onto Kumba, they also get 20%. So it is a massive flow into black shareholding. We see that they have done a lot with it. If you go to the Northern Cape now it is obviously there is 129 projects.
They have got development projects, crossing education, a lot of enterprises. I even saw a bakery there, which was part of an association for the blind enterprise making fantastic cakes for the community. A lot of developmental spin-off going down. At the same time Kumba now are saying that it is procuring a lot of equipment from black enterprises. So it is ticking box for the Mining Charter.
It believes itself that it will be best positioned to actually qualify with flying colours in this audit of the charter, which the Minister said he is going to be very firm with. We see though that production wise they have had a bit of a hiccup, but despite that and despite the low prices they are still determined to pay out these dividends, so the money flows into the black shareholding.
We do need a productivity boost. We saw the Aussies knock us into a cocked-hat in iron-ore. If you look at the figures the Aussie exports on the seaborne commodities is 25% up. Brazilians is 8% up and South Africans only 3% up. There is still a lot of margin there. According to the leaders at Kumba there is a lot more that they can push through and they are hoping to get to 50-million tons by 2016.
Kamwendo: Good news in this particular sector.
But then again strike-hit Anglo American Platinum is planning to spend up to R100-million on its mechanised mines, which survived this week’s big sell-off decision. You’ve been talking about this mechanisation.
Creamer: The big headlines came from the sell-off, but what you didn’t hear was up to R100-million was going to spent on their mechanised mines. This is where they see the confidence and return.
The big recipient would probably be the Mogalakwena mine, which is an absolute gem. It is probably the best platinum mine or mine on the planet as far as making money is concerned. What we haven’t heard is that they have got this mine Bathopele, which they have been doing mechanisation outside Rustenburg for underground – Mogalakwena is an opencast mine – underground they have been doing for the last eight years a lot of mechanisation.
They have now reached a point where they got to the extra low profile, which means that you can mine below the height of the table where the platinum is, that is why it is so difficult underground. Where the platinum is, it is such a low lying area. They got these machines that can come in extra-low. We used to talk about having a person there in those extra-low machines, I hear on the grapevine that they have cracked the code now and that you don’t actually need a person.
You can have remote control doing this drilling and then the clean-up is also mechanised. So, slowly you are getting people out of the dangerous areas of the mines. They are also saying that this is now fuelled by diesel, but soon it will be electrically powered and that will be a move towards actually using platinum to fuel platinum mining.
You will get the fuel-cell, which has a platinum catalyst. Fantastic things coming through on the front of platinum mining. One of the things that we must mention is that every single customer that ordered platinum from Anglo American Platinum during what was our longest strike in history, received their platinum.
There was not one hold up. In other words, what they did is that they did record achievement at Mogalakwena in that they pushed out more platinum, then they took from their dumps what they had, the stock-piles, and they got enough platinum through to satisfy every single order that was put through during a five-month strike. No interruption.
Kamwendo: My favourite story just very briefly.
60 000 ex-mineworkers have now come forward to claim R5-billion in unpaid pension and provident fund money.
Creamer: Early May there were 4 000, early June there were 25 000, now it has gone up to 60 000 ex-mineworkers who have come forward to claim R5-billion in unpaid pension and provident fund money, which is lying there and needs to be collected.
Unfortunately, the actual pay out of that, although these people have come forward, there has only been about 400 people paid out so far. That is where the sticking point is, because of the pile of paperwork.
Apparently another 500 are already concluded and ready to pay out. We can see that it is working. In the meantime, opportunists are jumping on the band wagon because we hear how people coming forward and demanding big claims, whereas Teba does this for nothing.
Kamwendo: 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.