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 Let’s kick off by looking at this new platinum company that is stepping up production, and what’s that in light of?
Creamer: Well this new platinum company, stepping up production to take full advantage of the supply gap left by the AMCU strike, which enters its twelfth week today! So we’ve got other new-breed companies starting to move in there and to see a gap, because the anticipation is that the price is going to rise, and this is Sedibelo Mining Company, part of the Pallinghurst group, which of course, is lead by that mining doyen Bryan Gilbertson, and no less than three governments form their shareholder base.
You know, firstly South African government is represented by the Industrial Development Corporation, which has got sixteen percent of these Sedibelo platinum mines, but also the Dutch government is in there, you could argue that millions of dutch pensioner’s money is in this ground there as well as the wealth fund from Singapore, the Temasek fund. So it is an unusual shareholder base, with an unusual style of mine, a new-breed of mine.
It’s shallow and it’s safe and it’s sassy in a way, because they’re looking to introduce new technology that will also take us into beneficiation, and that’s the magic word that the government is looking at. So they are looking at this Kell technology, which will mean that you use much less energy, which of course is an answer to Eskom’s prayer.
And at the same time you have a smaller carbon footprint. You don’t put as much carbon into the air and it gives you an opportunity to add value to the platinum on site which most South African’s are aspiring to. So this is Sedibelo mines, It’s part of Pallinghurst, it’s on the Western limb, close to Sun City, and it’s already producing a level of 150 000 oz which they want to step up progressively, up to a million ounces.
The price is the thing that probably could set this off, because once the Platinum prices rise inexplicably it’s not rising despite this strike. I think this company will list on the stock exchange. We already saw a listing yesterday of Tharisa, another platinum company, Ivanhoe is in the wings, so a new-breed of platinum companies coming in with a different way of doing things with mechanisation the theme.
Kamwendo: Isn’t this further exacerbating the current situation in that sector?
Creamer: Well, it’s saying that the world needs platinum, if Rustenburg is not going to give it through mines that are just not operative, we’ve got to find another way, because in our Bushveld Complex, it’s an Aladdin’s cave of treasure, so why not extract that platinum elsewhere, because platinum is the world’s big metal of the future. It is going to drive our cars, it’s going to create clean energy, it’s going to do so many things in a world which has a lot of pollution.
Kamwendo: I can just see all these bells going off, alarm bells, excitement bells all going of over that. In Mpumalanga a gold mining company is going on a growth spree after reaching an agreement with AMCU again.
Creamer: It just shows you, AMCU, in the Rustenburg area, but also on the Eastern limb, the gold mining sector and the coal mining sector.
This company is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, this is Vantage Gold. It’s a junior, and it was smacked by a seven-week strike, a very hostile strike from AMCU but being a small miner, not being like the Rustenburg where there are 70 000 strikers, this involved 800 people, so you’ve got a junior who can go in and say “look, we need to do something we’ve borrowed money on the stock exchanges.”
There you see them now going on a spree of growth because they’ve secured a deal with AMCU and I walked through that mine and I was quite impressed with the relationships. You saw smiling faces, but again you saw two magic words beginning with M, the one is migrant labour.
“They say we’ve got no migrant labour here now, we’ve turned 80% of our employees, 90% of our employees now come from the surrounding area and you would see them working there, and the other magic word beginning with M is mechanisation and you’ll see these people with big machines and a different style of working, fewer people being paid more. But I said to them, whispered in their ear, “are you demanding the R12 500?”, “no no no no no, we are not, we are going ahead, we see how important our jobs are, we want to move ahead here”.
I said “but what about Rustenburg?” “We are turning our backs on Rustenburg”, they said, a lot of them, AMCU members.
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.