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On-The-Air (26/04/2024)

26th April 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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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: Martin, for the first time in 21 years, a copper concentrate has been exported from South Africa's copper rich Northern Cape.

Creamer: We had a big copper district in the Northern Cape in the 1940s, to the 1980s, and then when the copper price dipped, the mines all went dormant. But now, with a copper price lifting so high at about $10 000/t, there's been anticipation of this, and smaller companies have come in and they’re working very, very fast. You can see Copper 360, which is listed on the AltX of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, already exporting concentrate copper. It started when they walked past the dumps there, and they said to the people, is there any value in these dumps? People said no, no, these dumps have been here for a long time. They said, well, let's see, and they discovered that the richness of the copper in the dumps was remarkable. So, they started producing copper cathode and then they looked around and found there's so many other opportunities that they are going into now a mining area, which is very, very large. It could contain ultimately 12 copper mines, and so they are looking also to beneficiate, eventually, because they've got the copper cathode, they think well, why just export the copper plate on its own, they're going to turn it into wire, which has added value, as well as into copper pipe. So remarkable things are happening in our Northern Cape.

Kamwendo: Martin, the shares of yet another budding Northern Cape copper mine, or miner should I say, went through the roof in Australia this week.

Creamer: The Australians are also looking at copper mining through the company Orion Minerals, which has invested in copper and zinc mining development and exploration in the Northern Cape. The primary listing of Orion is in Australia, and the secondary listing is on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. But the rules of the Australian Stock Exchange are quite strict, and Orion has had to go and prove that the copper is in the areas that they say it is. It's taken them a bit of time, but they had a drilling intersection, which so exited the stock exchange in Australia that the share price of Orion rocketed by 58% because they've gone through one of the richest copper nodes, which is proving that the data that they have is not just a fluke, it's not just a once off. They're very excited because everybody in the world at the moment is really excited about copper. Even with the takeover bid of Anglo American by BHP, what BHP wants to get from Anglo is its copper operation in Peru.  The world knows that it is going to be short of copper, and we have a great opportunity develop our Northern Cape. You can see the jobs starting to be created there, local people getting involved, and it's going to be an exciting area, which makes up 30% of South Africa’s land mass but only 3% of its population.

Kamwendo: Martin, finally, you can now buy and sell green hydrogen, which is the world's future oil, so to speak with the click of a digital button.

Creamer: This is happening now in Europe, and we got the report through about how this company which has been producing green hydrogen from the renewables out at sea, and on land, has modernised completely by digitising the trading of green hydrogen in addition to producing renewable energy. With a click of a button, you can trade, and they started trading green hydrogen from a digitised platform this week. That is also fantastic news because when you see green hydrogen, think of South Africa's platinum, because the way they’re producing the green hydrogen is to electrolyse and electrolysers are catalysed by platinum group metals. Also, when that green hydrogen is turned back into green electricity, it is used for mobility, and the fuel cells need for that again require the use of platinum group metals. So, what is happening in Europe and what will happen here eventually, is also very exciting for our mining industry.

Kamwendo: Thanks so much. Martin Creamer will be back with another edition of At the Coalface not next week, but the week after, because we’re having another election debate next week.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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