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: A new gold mine is effectively being built at Evander which is excellent news for the people of Mpumalanga.
Creamer: Evander at one stage, we thought it was on its last legs, but they pushed the reset button in 2018. Now it has been very fruitfully received. This mine is being brought back to life. Some people are saying it is possibly the world's largest unexplored gold orebody. So there is still plenty of gold there and I think that is a good lesson for the people of South Africa that often these mines look as though they are on their last legs, but if you really do a new study, you can see huge potential.
This is being done by Pan African Resources. You know, they are listed in London, they listed in Johannesburg. They have done such a fantastic due diligence on this. You can see at the moment it is producing at very low cost. It is not normally associated with an underground mine, because a lot of the infrastructure has been paid for, but now going into an effective new mines. It has given it immediate 14-year life. That is fantastic for the people of the area, because mines really generate wealth into the area and a lot of supply chains benefit from that. So good news about Evander gold mine.
Kamwendo: South Africa is one of the countries benefiting significantly from the strong demand for anthracite coal.
Creamer: You know, we don't normally talk about anthracite coal, it is a hard coal. We talk about thermal coal. We export a lot of that. People burn the thermal coal and we burn the thermal coal to give ourselves electricity. This anthracite coal is associated with metallurgical activity and smelting with ferroalloys and manganese sintering. It is a new demand, because Russia is a big supplier of this coal. But because of the situation with the Ukraine, people are not wanting to buy from Russia, so they’re swinging to South Africa.
That is giving us a very good boost. We produce 3-million tonnes of this a year, 40% we use domestically, 60% we export and the price is starting to rise. That is particularly very good news for Menar, which has the Zululand Anthracite Colliery in KwaZulu Natal. It is a fairly difficult geology. So, as the price goes up, it gives a lot more confidence. They are sinking a new shaft and they are looking to supply countries in Europe. They are saying that there could be a good lucrative possibility. And again, the community benefits, because one of the things that Zululand Anthracite Colliery does is supply water to the community, They actually purify water for 80,000 people. So it is good news.
Kamwendo: South Africa’s platinum group metals are being globally acknowledged as the world’s key climate change fighters.
Creamer: There is only one way of genuinely fighting climate change and it is going the green hydrogen route and the renewable energy route. That is joined it at the hip to our platinum group metals. We are very fortunate in having this massive endowment of platinum group metals. The world is now realizing that this is the genuine climate change fighter. You can see that just on hydrogen alone, the projections are now that there will be 100,000 ounces of platinum group metals needed from the beginning of next year.
That is just expected to grow exponentially. So, we will have to actually do a lot of extra production here, because we could have a supply issue if we don't measure up to this. In the meantime, our local South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM) is going to have a massive meeting at Sun City in November to really focus the country's mind, focus South Africa’s mind, on the critical opportunity that it has here to really benefit from the fact that the world is fighting climate change. They want collaboration. Normally, the SAIMM concentrates just on technology, but now as a 125 year old, they say this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So they want to bring the whole supply chain there so that South Africa can really see the massive opportunity going forward for us in platinum-group metals.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.