Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: South African platinum has helped South Korean car maker Hyundai to launch the world’s cleanest car.
Creamer: Covid-19 has got us used to clean skies and the cars are responding, particularly the Hyundai by South Korea. They have put a double-page spread advertisement in the Economist of London to say that their car will be the cleanest, with the help of South African platinum.
What they have done is they have gone over to the fuel cell with hydrogen and the fuel cell is catalysed by platinum, which does an incredible job of stop emissions in cars throughout the world. It has done with a catalytic converter and now it can do that with a fuel cell as well. What the Koreans are saying is that the air that comes into the engine of the car is going to be dirtier then the air that leaves that exhaust. So, they are looking at an ultra-clean vehicle. They are saying that people are looking at them with disbelief, because they got so used to cars smelling, cars smoking and cars making noise and what this will do is it will make cars odourless, emission free and virtually noiseless. Of course, we have become so health conscious now, the world is demanding this. Now we see car companies responding.
This is with their Nexo car and the hydrogen, of course, from the sun and the wind using sea water, will then combine with oxygen in the air and that equals electricity, because of the help of the fuel cell. Wonderful platinum from South Africa catalysis all of it. There you have an electrical car that can go 600 km on a single tank, you can fill the tank with hydrogen in five minutes. It has also got special filters to pollute the particulates in the air that get into our lungs. This is going to be an incredible example of how to create clean mobility.
Kamwendo: More than 240 000 South African mineworkers are now back at work and punching above their weight.
Creamer: It’s fantastic to hear that although over just half of South Africa’s mineworkers are back at work, the productivity levels are encouragingly high. People are saying that perhaps they will actually punch above their weight overall. Individual mines that on one occasion only had 27% of the workforce, were able to operate at 100% capacity.
Obviously, that wasn’t a very big mine and they were mining tailings dumps, which is not as complicated as when you go underground, but the feeling and the sense coming out of Minerals Council South Africa is that although not all the people are at work, you are getting a higher productivity because of the high morale and people wanting to work for other people, for the good of South Africa at this time of Covid crisis. The ubuntu attitude is prevailing of people wanting to do well to make sure that the country’s mines don’t end up with losses that are too excessive, because foreign workers are not back yet.
The situations at borders are not condusive to foreign mineworkers being able to return to work, so local mineworkers are having to carry the can in a massive way. The reports coming through are that hopes are rising that local mineworkers are going to punch well above their weight from a production point of view.
Kamwendo: Harmony Gold will be raising R3-billion on the stock exchange to take over the world’s deepest mine.
Creamer: With Covid-19, of course, you can’t get your shareholders together so you have to have a virtual extraordinary general meeting, entirely run electronically. The good news coming out of Harmony Gold yesterday was that their requisite number of shareholders voted electronically to give them permission to raise more than R3-billion so that they can partly fund with that money the acquisition of all the remaining South African assets of AngloGold Ashanti.
The Competition Tribunal has approved the transaction without conditions and Harmony Gold will soon be the owner of the deepest mine in the world, that is the Mponeng gold mine, near Carletonvillw. You can see that the activities there are very good at the moment. There was a hit with the Covid-19 at the Anglo Gold Ashanti mines and several of their workers, in fact there were 214 cases positively tested for Covid. Now we see 189 recoveries. Also, what is happening is intense screening with each and every time a mineworker goes on shift, they are screened. Not just once, but every single time.
The screening has covered something like 248 000 people with 10 000 tests. So, really the 831 cases have been detected. If they hadn’t been detected we would have gone the same way some of the other mines overseas, like we saw in Canada. Mineworkers are one Canadian mine were forced to work instead of going on lockdown and the mine ended up with a lot of Covid cases and a Covid death.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.