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: Southern Africa was this week highlighted as a very competitive potential producer of green hydrogen.
Creamer: Yes, and green hydrogen the world is acknowledging is going to be the future of energy. We are sitting here with superior sun, prime wind, and also if you take in Democratic Republic of Congo a lot of hydropower, and also a lot of hydropower in Zambia.
So, the conclusion at the workshop in Namibia this week in Windhoek was that Southern Africa is very competitive, amazingly competitive, in fact, as a potential producer of green hydrogen. We need to really get going now as a region to make sure that we power ourselves and then we look to exporting green hydrogen competitively into the emerging world market.
Kamwendo: South Africa’s biggest ferrochrome producer is planning to generate 744 MW of its own electricity.
Creamer: Now, you look at that 744 megawatts. It is a lot of megawatts from one big company, which is Merafe Resources. Merafe is the associate of Glencore. They produce ferrochrome. Ferrochrome is needed for stainless steel. It is in demand, and the demand for it is growing all the time. But what has happened is China has taken a lot of our market, using our chrome, because we didn't have the energy. Now, people are going for their own energy. It is going to be clean and green.
They are looking for on-site solar, or off-site wind, and buying in power, not only generating it all themselves, and contributing 744 megawatts. There are feasibility studies and pre-feasibility studies under way. It is all generally on the go now and it will also involve using waste gas, for some of those megawatts. Waste gas emitted when ferrochrome is produced. If you capture the waste gas, you can get electricity from it and this is what they are doing.
Kamwendo: South Africa is leading the world by using satellite imagery to monitor its mine dumps.
Creamer: This is really advanced. We have got DRDGold, which mines our dumps here. They have a high level of technology. We know that the world is insisting now that when you have got the tailings dams, what we know as mine dumps, you make sure that they don't kill people, which happened in Brazil, many people were killed.
They died when slime came over their canteen and also spread down into the water and over their houses and many were drowned in mine slime. What is interesting, you monitor these things. So, what DRDGold is doing, it's gone to an extreme, beyond drones. They used to have drones flying over on a quarterly basis, to see how these dumps have moved in case of water build-up or in case of burst dams. Now, they are actually going for satellite imaging, which is a major advance. In fact, they are so advanced that the rest of the world is looking to them for guidance and also possibly it could be a new activity for them to supply information and help around the world to dumps that need to be made very secure.
This is done to ensure that the never show any movement that comes to water ingress. Immediately, these satellites will show you that instantly. It is going to go right into the boardrooms of DRDGold to make sure that they can stop anything untoward. This sort of method of making sure that you have recovered the gold from all those dumps, but also you make sure that they are safe is now demanded by the world and South Africa is leading the way.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.