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: The ANC’s document calling on South Africa to encourage mining exploration has received positive response.
Creamer: This is a 30 page discussion document put out by the Economic Transformation Committee of the ANC. It has got a very good response. One of the points that is made in this and it makes a lot of points across the whole economy regarding mining, one of the important points that it says is that we should encourage exploration. Now, we know that the Minister Gwede Mantashe has been trying to push for this for a long time. But, they have actually given a formula of how you should do it. They are obviously following other mining jurisdictions and they are saying that companies should be encouraged to go onto the stock exchange and then people willing to invest should be centivised to invest in exploration. It is a very high-risk thing, but there is also hiring rewards. If you go into Canada and you ever get a lift from the airport to your hotel, you will find that the taxi driver is an investor in exploration in Canada through the flow-through scheme. He will say you see these big buildings, that is a result of mining. It has worked in Canada the flow-through scheme and they are saying that is largely done by retail investors. They mention that word retail investors. So, its small mining with small investors, which we are not used to in South Africa, but it has worked so well elsewhere. Now, the ANC has put this in a document and it has got a very good response from the Minerals Council South Africa, as well as big miners, small miners and people who have previously explored. It could be a very good stimulus for the economy in this post-covid environment.
Kamwendo: A new Proudly South African technology breakthough gives platinum a firm thumbs up.
Creamer: Platinum has got a very firm thumbs-up in the production of hydrogen. We have been given it by a world first breakthrough. A Proudly South African world first breakthrough right here in Randburg by Hydrox Holdings. The Hydrox name gives you the idea that they are very much into hydrogen. They have experimented with electrodes that are not platinum. In fact, basically they went for the cheapest electrodes they could get. Then they sent a pair of the electrodes to United States for plating with platinum, brought them back and the results they say were strupendous in actually producing in a much greater efficiency. It already had this world breakthrough where they come down the cost curve by the way they produce the hydrogen membrane list electrolyser, which has never been done in the world. They have patented this and they are getting backed funding from Shell Energy, because it is such an innovative thing that people have never seen before. It could really help this economy if we start going down the cost curve and producing hydrogen that we can export and also using our platinum.
Kamwendo: Yet another mining company has announced the go-ahead for a solar power electricity project.
Creamer: Solar power is very much on the lips of mining companies of South Africa. We see big projects being planned and going ahead in Limpopo. Now, in Mpumalanga we have an interesting example, because they want a 10 MW solar power plant to start with. That indicates that they want to avoid all the red tape. It is a problem, because if they go bigger then 10 MW there can be a lot of red tape with Nersa. 10 MW is what the board has approved by Pan African, which is listed in London and Johannesburg and now also in the United States. They want to produce their own renewable energy to turn waste material on dumbs into gold and their profit margin at the moment is so high. If they can come in with cheaper electricity that margin is going to be even bigger and they are very encouraged by this. We see not only the small companies but the bigger companies like ArcelorMittal wanting to go ahead with a big project that is a solar project inviting independent power producers to come forward. We see Sasol wanting to do the same thing. Big and small are seeing value in producing their own electricity using South Africa’s sunshine and getting it done in a way that is much cheaper then what they pay for electricity at the moment. It is a great business case all round and it creates jobs and that is why Gwede Mantashe the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister who attended a virtual meeting online this week said that this whole renewable business exceeded his expectations.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.