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South Africa well positioned to have the best of both carbon worlds for decades to come

5th April 2019

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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South Africa is in the good position of having a promising coal export outlook as well as superior sun and prime wind to bolster its renewable-energy prospects.

South Africa is in a relatively unrivalled position to simultaneously come off coal gradually over decades and to come onto renewable energy as fast as possible competitively.

South Africa’s coal mines and its established rail and coal export ports can continue to meet the strong demand for coal that will persist from Asian countries and Eskom while red tape is removed and better transmission lines are put in place to carry electricity across the country with alacrity

As South Africa’s massively dominant coal-fired electricity genera- tion plateaus and declines, every effort should be made to generate renewable energy at the most competitive rate in the world.

Many in the know calculate that South Africa is in a better position than most countries to produce renewable power at low cost because of the intensity of its sunlight and also the surprising vigour of its wind corridors.

The “convenient truth” – if one is to play on the title of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary – is that South Africa is in a prime position to decarbonise without undermining security of electricity supply, employment numbers and economic growth.

Those who have studied South Africa’s potential energy transition seriously reckon that our decarbonised platform will be cheaper than any other currently envisaged.

This opens the way for the recreation of a competitive minerals- energy complex, using cheap, clean electricity to process the minerals we extract.

With a vibrant minerals-energy complex, South Africa’s mining competitiveness can once again attract investment into its Aladdin’s Cave of metals and minerals estimated by Citibank to be worth more than $2.3-trillion – and that excludes coal. It is very important that this substantial opportunity is turned to positive account for the socioeconomic benefit of all the people of South Africa.

Our national patrimony spans the six platinum group metals (PGMs), high-quality manganese, chrome, vanadium, titanium, gold, diamonds and many lesser publicised mined products like zinc, phosphates and vermiculite.

South Africa is also part of a continent that hosts large amounts of copper ore, cobalt, lithium, nickel, graphite, rare-earth elements and bauxite for aluminium – all metals and minerals that the modern climate-conscious world needs in increasing quantities.

There is no doubt about mining having the potential again to play a significant economic revival role. As Minerals Council South Africa regularly points out, mining growth stimulates growth in engineering, manufacturing, servicing, banking, infrastructure, trade and consulting through scores of forward, backward and sideways linkages.

As mining depths increase the world over, South Africa’s experience at depth creates opportunities for locally developed solutions that can be offered globally. Again, the Minerals Council has conducted extensive research into mine modernisation, a potential future export commodity, along with the clean energy spin-offs that our remarkable PGMs endowment can offer.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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