Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: Mr Gwede Mantashe must take his new energy portfolio seriously by boosting renewable energy, which is cheaper and jobs-rich.
Creamer: This is a wonderful thing. We have got superior sun in South Africa, we even have got prime wind. This is the time to really take us into the minerals energy complex that he now controls at a lower energy cost.
We know that the coal-fired method of doing things has been frowned upon by the world and we are very dependent on that. We need to move away, but we have even got another big option. The biggest quantity of gas in the world is hydrogen and our hydrogen is joined at the hip with platinum. If we can then bring in this clean-as-a-whistle type of energy and also use that energy to catalyse car electricity, we can really be the leaders in the world in this new clean energy that the world is demanding.
In terms of actual exports, I am sure at some stage the world is going to say, we are not going to take your exports because you are using dirty energy. It is time for us to really rethink this and I think Gwede Mantashe is in the perfect spot to do it.
Kamwendo: South Africa’s new carbon tax, which comes into effect tomorrow, aims at curtailing our colossal dependence on coal-based electricity
Creamer: As you can see, carbon taxes are being introduced all around the world to say to people you have got to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere. This tax is not that clear at the moment, but it seems from the bill that when we pull up at the pumps tomorrow, it will start when we put petrol into cars, we will have to pay 9c more and if we are putting diesel in we will pay 10c more.
This is just the start. It seems that the government is really not wanting to hurt the economy at the moment, but it is not backing off on the carbon-tax issue. Many people are saying that the regulations is not to clear and I think that they are going to introduce it through the Treasury next week and then gazetting in July. It is all again showing the momentum in the world towards getting away from burning fossil fuels that actually change the climate of the world and are causing problems all over.
Kamwendo: A feather in South Africa’s cap is that it remains the world’s biggest exporter of manganese, a metal found in great quantities in the Northern Cape.
Creamer: It is fantastic to think that we are still the biggest shippers of manganese in the world, with 35% of the world market, excluding China. Of course, China is a very big user of this. It goes into steel manufacture, but it indicates to us what resources we have got in this country. Such important resources. How are South Africans dealing with that?
When you look at the Northern Cape, you find that Australian companies have got a big control of the big say in the manganese in South Africa. That is also a point for us to start scratching our heads and thinking do we need to get more involved, particularly our stock exchanges, in these locally mined resources.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.