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South Africa needs to embrace Ubuntu principles in going green, webinar hears

Screenshot by Creamer Media

From top left, clockwise, are Abel Sakhau, Martin Preece, Jevon Martin, Nikisi Lesufi and James Mackay.

Photo by Creamer Media

31st January 2022

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – In decarbonising and going green, South Africa needs to embrace the principles of Ubuntu and show humanity towards others.

That view was expressed by Gold Fields South Africa executive VP Martin Preece during the 'Decarbonisation & Going Green in the Mining Sector' webinar hosted by Creamer Media on January 28.

“Maybe the biggest priority for us as a country is to move from a position of what’s in it for me to what’s in it for us,” said Preece.

Abel Sakhau, the climate change and sustainability strategist of Exxaro Resources, also raised the question of the position of junior miners who may not have the financial muscle of the bigger companies and the need to take these companies into account.

At the same time, he expressed strong confidence that coal and renewables company Exxaro would reach carbon neutrality by 2050 by doing what it already has under way through its renewables company Cennergi and on the action taken with its minerals business.

“It’s not going to be easy but we are determined that with the actions we’re taking and the plans that we have, we’ll get there,” said Sakhau.

Minerals Council South Africa environment, health and legacies senior executive Nikisi Lesufi emphasised the importance of the removal of regulatory red tape to enable mining companies to decarbonise and go green.

“The most important thing is to remove the bottlenecks in terms of mining companies being able to generate their own power supplies, because that first reduces their carbon footprint but secondly reduces the burden on Eskom, and therefore releases scope for other economies to be developed. In other words, it ticks the box of advancing the  growth of South Africa’s economy.

“When we have operational excellence from an energy security perspective, we also give the country an opportunity for economic growth. Our engagement with Eskom, Transnet, DMRE, Infrastructure and the Presidency is basically to remove most of the red tape. You need a supportive policy and regulatory environment,” said Lesufi, who advocated the Vulindlela template and a 'fire brigade' approach to dealing with these issues.

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater's energy and decarbonisation manager Jevon Martin, who is also Energy Intensive Users Group chairperson, said he could say confidently on Sibanye’s behalf that the company would reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

“We’ve done a huge amount of work in understanding our carbon profile, the technologies that we need to deploy and the market mechanisms.

“We do recognise there are going to be some hard-to-abate emissions towards the tail end of our journey and on that basis, you need to create offset opportunities to neutralise them.

“There is always going to be a portion of hard-to-abate emissions. You won't get away from that. That’s a reality, but you just need to factor that into your planning and costing to show you’ve addressed it,” said Martin.

These comments were made in response to facilitator PwC energy and infrastructure strategy lead James Mackay asking how trust and partnerships with government could be built up to move forward at a faster pace “because, really, speed is of the essence”.

“The reality is that we’re not getting there quickly enough,” said Mackay.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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