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: Major global moves to convert to hydrogen energy is a big boost for South Africa’s platinum metals.
Creamer: Hydrogen and platinum go hand-in-hand. I was just attending the World Hydrogen Leaders conference and we saw their representatives from Germany, France, UK, Norway, Switzerland, using two words, we have got to do this “very quickly”. They want to move over to green hydrogen. We see that one of the priorities of Germany is to include East Germany into this.
So, the impact for South Africa will be very positive, because the moment they start moving into hydrogen, they generate it with the help of platinum-group metals, platinum and iridium. When they use the fuel cells, they need platinum and ruthenium. It’s great news for us that the world is really moving fast towards green hydrogen.
Kamwendo: Far-reaching steps were taken this week to consolidate South Africa’s platinum mines.
Creamer: This consolidation is important, because although the platinum business is very strong, we saw in the first quarter, with the Covid situation and logistics problem, we saw hiccups in the price because of the lack of semiconductors for cars. The platinum group metals business is very reliant on the car pool to sell its products. We see now that there is an outreach from Implats towards Royal Bafokeng Platinum and we know that link has always been there through the Bafokeng community.
The Bafokeng community is 300 000 strong and they have a marvellous history in platinum group metals. They actually bought that land, they have the title deed for that land, and it is the richest bit of real estate on the planet, because in that area of Rustenburg, there are platinum group metals. Now, those two companies, Implats and Royal Bafokeng Platinum, want to come together.
Also, on the eastern limb, we see Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals also looking at the possibilities of consolidation because that African Rainbow Minerals group has two mines out there in Modikwa and Two Rivers, and it makes sense when your mines are close to others, to engage in consolidation talks, and that will be important for our platinum group metals industry, which do good to the South African economy.
Kamwendo: Disadvantaged First Nation communities in Canada see green hydrogen as a reconciliation opportunity.
Creamer: This was very interesting to listen to – the virtual event coming through from Canada and the First Nations making their voices heard there and saying that they are a disadvantaged community. “Your legislation disadvantaged us and put us into areas that resulted in us being poverty stricken in some cases”, a First Nation spokesperson said to the largely Canadian audience.
With green hydrogen coming in, they want to be part of the ownership of that energy. The mines are out in areas where Canada’s First Nation indigenous people reside and they want to be involved in the green energy build up. Those mines don’t last forever and when those mines end, the First Nation indigenous communities want to take over the operation of that energy.
Canada’s First Nation indigenous communities see the entry of mines into the green hydrogen space as an important opportunity, and they make the point that Canadian mining companies must look at it as a means of what they term “indigenous reconciliation”.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.