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 Motsepe Foundation has launched an exciting green energy competition with a $2-million prize.
Creamer: This is fantastic for the African continent. The African continent is made for green energy. It has superior sun and it has prime wind and, in a lot of places, it has got a lot of water for hydropower. It is wonderful that the Motsepe Foundation, with the Milton Institute, are offering a $2-million prize for people who come up with innovative ideas as to how we can get this wonderful green electricity and green power to another 600-million Africans who live on the continent, who do not have access to electricity, at this stage.
In fact, 940-million people around the world could use this. We are the place to really get going on innovation. Most of Africa is fortunate in not being been overly bogged down by what is really an old colonial process of burning coal to get electricity. Africa has got a wonderful opportunity to move into a new era, with green and clean energy. We see that the generation of green energy is what is being demanded by the whole world now. It is great that the Motsepe Foundation is putting forward this $2-million prize to get people to come forward to facilitate green energy generation on our sun-endowed continent.
Kamwendo: Limpopo province is the beneficiary of a $2-billion investment in a new underground diamond mine in the province.
Creamer: We talking dollars there, but if you turn that into rand, it is R35-billion. This diamond mine in Limpopo, I went to this week, is absolutely exemplary. It has been opencast up to now, but it is going underground. That is what the $2-billion expenditure has been on. I saw the new shafts and this is going to mean that the five-million carats of diamonds that get produced every year on this mine are going to continue to be produced and sold for another quarter century.
Because, as they go underground, they have still got a lot of kimberlite to mine. Even then, they say, in 2046, they believe there will still be an opportunity to expand once more and go even deeper again. The diamond mine is a great contribution to us in South Africa. It is being built by De Beers at Venetia. One of the things I noticed as I flew over is that Venetia has sorted out the problem of tailings dam breaches. What they have done with their tailings dam there, they impounded it with waste rock.
So it is not something that can ever breach. This is great because of what we saw at Jagersfontein, where the tailings dam breach resulted in death and destruction, and what we are seeing at the Williamson diamond mine in Africa at the moment. Another thing, as I went down the decline at the expanding Venetia diamond mine in Limpopo, I noticed that in terms of the climate change we are fearing a lot of water flow, and they have linked up with the local weather bureau, because there are tropical storms where they are, on the border of Zimbabwe and Botswana.
They will pick up any sign of a threatening tropical storm and they are building massive big water control gates. So as you go down the decline, you have got these huge gates, which will automatically close in the event of any threatened water ingress into the mine. Those doors closing will ensure that water cannot flood the mine. People are thinking more deeply and spending quite a lot on safety and that could be witnessed very clearly at this great Venetia mine, in Limpopo.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly, and he’ll be back with us at the same time next Friday.