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: Helping the planet to fight climate change is now reflected in the product line up of Anglo American.
Creamer: Yes, South Africa’s biggest mining company, Anglo American, has withdrawn from thermal coal ahead of schedule. It is now concentrating on metals and minerals that are future-enabling and that decarbonise. The one that springs to mind first, of course, is our platinum and platinum group metals in South Africa, which the company is really doing a lot of good service towards.
The other is copper, which they mine in South America. Then there is also the iron-ore in South Africa, the nickel and manganese. From a point of view of carbonising the world, the last remining thing that they have got is metallurgical coal. I think they need to hasten on that. They believe that they have got many years left to continue produce metallurgical coal, which is used to produce steel, but I see companies in Australia are now moving fast and wanting to withdraw from the use of metallurgical coal and actually use green hydrogen instead of metallurgical coal, and the use of green hydrogen will then convert that iron-ore into steel. Of course, Anglo American knows a lot about green hydrogen.
They are going to be producing it in Limpopo province imminently, where they will use it to drive their trucks. So, I am sure they will also be looking at green hydrogen as a possible use for their iron-ore in the Northern Cape. Until that positive announcement comes, we see that they are moving into crop nutrients as well. In the UK, they have gone into crop nutrients, so it is a new move and new type of direction for Anglo American.
Kamwendo: South Africa’s top mining think-tank this week called on the mining industry to stop the killing of valuable jobs.
Creamer: The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in South Africa has done a study using special technology to check whether mines are really producing at the rate that they should be, and also whether they are employing the number of people that they should employ. The one study that they gave this week, they had a webinar, went into detail of all the activities of mining, such as drilling, crushing, blasting, loading and hauling.
They found a mine was not hitting its targets by quite a long shot, because it had too few people. This was an astounding thing where the general manager had given orders to not employ more people, but in doing that he was denying his shareholders massive wealth. At first they added something like $400-million by merely spending on four additional people to drive haulage trucks, which cost them only R150 000 a month. So, you have this value destruction by people who are budgeting. What those who did the study are urging now is that they use this value driver tree technology to also budget, before they just cut budgets.
They need to know that they are not destroying value and also killing jobs. That was a big lesson that came out of this webinar, even ahead of what we call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is going to give us a lot more data. This data that we already have can already show us where mines are going wrong and general managers are not allowing human resource departments to employ addition people and destroying massive value for their shareholders.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.