SAfm’s radio anchor Udo Carelse this week spoke to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Carelse: The small diamond producers’ organisation this week expressed determination to grow and create jobs.
Creamer: Yes, that is Sadpo. They operate mainly in the Northern Province and they have got a lot of potential to create jobs and wealth. In 2004, they had 25 000 people alluvially diamond mining there. That is now down to 5 000. They used to have 2 000 operations and is now down to 200. Against that background, there is determination to get back to where the alluvial diamond mining industry was before one-size-fits-all regulations for big and small mining operations caused the downturn in the numbers.
There is tremendous negotiation now with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Sadpo is working to make sure that they can get the small operators back and not have them burdened by the onerous regulations. License fees have been very high and need to come down. Also, in the period now there has been a lot of illegal mining, so that they have to deal with people that are part of organised crime and actually carrying weapons, particularly on the West Coast.
This intimidation by organised crime is preventing licence holders from operating. A lot of work has to be done, but Sadpo is confident under new Sadpo CEO Yamkela Makupula, who herself owns 30% of a mining operation in the Middle Orange River as well as 30% of a trading operation. The world wants these diamonds so they are very confident that the demand will be there.
Carelse: Harmony Gold is placing great emphasis on extending the life of its gold mines and supporting host communities.
Creamer: Yes, sustainability is taking the front seat. They are going ahead with a three phase operation to put in renewable power. As we speak now, the first sods are probably being turned for the Phase 1 of 30 megawatts of solar power in the Free State. That will be followed by 137 megawatts in the second phase, and it's a massive business case.
During the first phase, a renewable energy company will provide the 30 megawatts and sell it on to Harmony Gold, but in the second phase, Harmony will be building the 137 megawatt capacity off its own balance sheet, and they estimate that they will be able to pay off the R1.5-billion in three years. It shows you how this is really a business case for these mines and they are going ahead with very fast with the self-generation of their electricity.
Carelse: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.