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On-The-Air (31/03/2023)

2023-03-31_safm

31st March 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: South Africa’s platinum metals have the potential to add a million jobs plus R8-trillion to our economy.

Creamer: I want to repeat, R8-trillion to the economy, plus a million jobs. This was unequivocally spelled out this week at the Platinum Group Metals Industry Day in Johannesburg. The figures came after a lot of research from South Africa's Minerals Council. It was enunciated by the CEO of the Minerals Council, Roger Baxter, who is also chairperson of the World Platinum Investment Council.

Baxter was saying that if South Africa works together – which we should do, because some countries are collaborating on critical metals at the moment – we can turn this platinum group metals mining industry into one that yields another R8-tillion for us, plus another million jobs. I think that should be something we should really focus on and work together to achieve. Roger Baxter was showing the pictures of the trucks, beautiful Daimler trucks, that have opted for hydrogen fuel-cell potential and the fuel cells are catalysed by platinum group metals. These trucks, if you think of the number that you could have around the world, what create incredible demand for our platinum group metals.

Then you see Japan with its Toyota, you see Europe moving over with so much of this fuel cell and hydrogen activity. Baxter also spoke of the industrial potential, the steel industry, which needs the green hydrogen, the cement industry, the glass industry, all relying on these platinum group metals. We have 87% of the world's supply, so let's not beat about the bush. I repeat, we’ve got 87% of the world's supply of platinum group metals and if we combine with Zimbabwe, Southern Africa has more than 90% of the world's supply of platinum group metals, which are also wanted in jewellery.

Platinum jewellery is seen as superior to gold and actually the price paid for platinum jewellery in China and around the world, Japan, is higher than for gold. The investment market is really building up now for platinum bars and coins and exchange traded funds. The platinum futures people are buying platinum to make sure that they can get a hold of hydrogen, because you can't actually invest in hydrogen at the moment. Tremendous opportunity we have got in South Africa with our platinum group metals.

Kamwendo: Critical metals needed to combat climate change are under the microscope at 12 South African universities.

Creamer: We have 12 universities working in a consortium to try and look into how we can come to grips with the geometallurgy of the likes of lithium, rare earths, graphite and cobalt. These are needed in products such as batteries and technology-related products including wind turbines.

To have an adequate supply of critical metals, the world needs much more mining, but we also need much more recycling of the metals once the products they catalyse reach the end of their lives. We have got to think about how we bring these metals back into the value chain, because without recycling, the world will not have enough of critical metals to arrest the rising global temperature. We need to mine more, use more, and design the products using these critical metals for organised recycling.

This will likely be the only way to ensure that we have enough of these critical metals to fight climate change successfully. A population of geologists are now being upskilled. The two major universities are the University of Johannesburg and Wits University but a dozen are combining to look into these critical metals and ensure that there are enough of them to save the planet.

Kamwendo: The huge benefits of the hydrogen economy are being seized by more than 30 countries across the world.

Creamer: More than 30 countries around the world now have hydrogen strategies, the latest one coming from Australia, saying this week that the development of the hydrogen economy can produce 72 000 jobs Down Under. In Canada, massive tax breaks worth about $17 billion are being given to green hydrogen developers. You have got the US with the Inflation

Reduction Act and so much activity in California in particular. The European Union is engaging in widespread hydrogen incentivisation. Japan has a long-standing track record in hydrogen. China is going for hydrogen in a big way, as is South Korea, and even Scotland came through this week saying that they are going to go into green hydrogen.

These strategies are all linked again to South Africa’s platinum group metals. Europe has declared the green hydrogen an official alternative fuel. So really, we’re in a good position because of South Africa’s links to the hydrogen economy through our huge platinum group metals endowment.

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

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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