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On-The-Air (28/04/2023)


28th April 2023

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: Thulani Gcabashe’s R105-billion hydrogen project in the Eastern Cape already has a fourfold expansion plan on the drawing board.

Creamer: That's right. You know, this was the biggest pledge at the President's conference this month, when investors came and made pledges. That R105-billion knocked the socks off everything else. I think the next highest investment pledge was R60-billion. So, when we looked into it, we thought, well, this is a big project, not realising that this was only the first phase of what could be a massive project because three more phases have already been outlined. When you speak to the developers, Hive Hydrogen, they report that the green ammonia that they will produce is in such projected demand, and this demand is building up so fast that even if they had 50 of these projects, it probably wouldn't be enough.

Already, they have got off takers. The Far East has already said, we will take everything you can produce – and all they are looking at really is supplying the maritime industry with green ammonia. They are not even looking at what green hydrogen and green ammonia can do for the fertiliser industry and the other industries. Just maritime is going to take this up, and the ships that will probably come and collect the green ammonia at Coega, in the Eastern Cape, to transport it to Far Eastern markets, will themselves, at that stage, likely be driven by green ammonia in order to protect Mother Earth. You can see in the shipbuilding industry that this need for greenness has sparked a lot of new shipbuilding.

The new ships are being built so that they can cater for the new green energy, and climate change abatement is setting off such a lot of activity that they say it could have a massive social benefits for the Eastern Cape where they are really working on a lot of renewable energy. Sixty per cent of the money spent will have to go and sun and wind energy. Then you put that clean, green electricity through seawater to get hydrogen, oxygen and desalinated water. There will be so much water that they can help to solve the Eastern Cape’s water crisis. They will be able to give to the Nelson Mandela Municipality clean water and at the same time, get hydrogen, and then mix the hydrogen with nitrogen to turn it into the green ammonia, which is going to be in massive demand by the maritime industry. The minimum number of jobs initially will be 20 000, but with the four phases, they are talking about 50 000 jobs. Of course, they are linked to international companies. They are also doing feasibility studies in the Magellan Straits in Chile and also planning to produce green hydrogen in Spain, and in Turkey. They are going all over the world.

Kamwendo: Mashudu Ramano’s innovative hydrogen fuel cell project in Gauteng aims to decentralise electricity generation.

Creamer: I first met Mashudu Ramano in 2015. He was at Minerals Council South Africa. He was putting in a fuel cell, a hydrogen driven fuel cell, and that produced 100 kilowatts of electricity. The then Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies was there at the time and they made a plea that South Africa should produce 1 000 megawatts of electricity from hydrogen fuel cells, because, even then, they referred to what taking placed in South Africa as an electricity crisis. Well, that was 2015. It fell on deaf ears, of course, but now the crisis has got so bad. What Mashudu Ramano is now working on, and he is going to invest R4.5-billion and we saw that also pledged at the President's investment conference, is at Emfuleni, a Vaal area. He is going to produce fuel cells there. He is going to introduce what he calls a pro-consumer type of environment where consumers will produce their own electricity and also consume their own electricity and it could be massive for Africa.

Kamwendo: A R2.5-billion funding milestone has been reached for a promising new copper mining hub to be built in the Northern Cape.

Creamer: Copper, the world is after copper. Orion Minerals is listed in Australia, and it is listed in Johannesburg, and it has been raising funds. It has now reached its milestone of R2.5-billion and has received some support from our Industrial Development Corporation and from Canadians and people around the world. They are going to start reviving what was a great copper hub in the North Cape through these funds. There is an existing base metals mine there. They are going to dewater that and start producing the copper from there. That is at Prieska. Then they are going to move over to Okiep and do similar extraction so that they can supply base metals, copper and zinc to the world. Suddenly we are seeing those areas developing. We saw Copper 360 list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange last Friday. People are seeing that areas in Northern Cape are highly prospective and big in base metal endowments, which would be great for our economy once they get things going.

Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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