On-The-Air (02/02/2024)

2nd February 2024 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

On-The-Air (02/02/2024)

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: Mining company Glencore has begun constructing a clean electricity plant at its ferroalloys operation in North West province.

Creamer: This is great news that the mining companies are on the ground now developing and constructing solar power. This will be 25 megawatts and this is for their vanadium plant, the Rhovan-managed plant, in the North West province. Of course, Glencore is also very big in ferrochrome and there the scene is going to be much bigger, because they are planning to bring in and they close to concluding the deal for 200 megawatts and also another 150 megawatts.

So, we talking about close to 400 megawatts in all that Glencore will be adding to the system. In doing so, they want to incorporate local communities. They want to bring in the local communities through small businesses and medium sized businesses, so all round this is going to be very good for the South African economy.

Kamwendo: Yet another coal-mining company is taking steps to include clean energy and additional minerals in its product offering.

Creamer: This is Ndalamo Resources. It is a 100% black-owned company. It has got several coal operations out in the Mpumalanga province. What Ndalamo is looking to is the future, to being resilient in the future. It is using the existing business in coal as a pivot to get it into energy in general as a start. It has already launched its energy company, so we have got Ndalamo Energy.

The thought process there is that you start getting into solar power, you start getting into wind power now, maybe even hydropower, and all the other opportunities for clean energy. At the same time, you move into the critical minerals space, minerals that are also low-carbon orientated. That is what Ndalamo is working on now. It has made the statement ahead of next week's Mining Indaba to alert everybody to its new intentions.

We can see that some other coal-mining majors have already passed along that same route. Exxaro, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is not only big in coal, but it has moved into wind and sun energy. We also see  coal-mining company Seriti doing the same thing, going big into wind, into solar, and not only in South Africa, in fact, but into Africa as a whole.

Kamwendo: The South African government this week announced the appointment of a preferred bidder for the implementation of a new electronic mining and exploration licensing system.

Creamer: This is wonderful news, because mining has been held back, because exploration can't get ahead, because of the licensing system. What happened several years ago, the government wanted to build a system itself and this system broke down. So, we have got an incredible backlog. I think 3 000 applications in backlog, worth about R30-billion.

Now, coming through, looks like a great solution, because the winners of this are a consortium If you start examining the consortium, its three pieces of that are very interesting. The piece at the top is a company that has enormous experience in Canada and we know that Canada is the place where the exploration really gets ahead, not only in Canada but worldwide. Then, the two other companies which form the rest of the three-company conglomerate have a lot of experience in South Africa. They are going to be working together. They are the preferred bidders to design, to maintain and to support.

They can’t just runaway after it’s up. They are going to see that it really works. You can see that Minerals Council South Africa is expressing considerable confidence in this, because I think this time around, we have got to make our cadastre work. The mining industry has been shrinking and with this we will have greater transparency. You can see what's going on, you can get onto your laptop and find out what investments are available. So, we are hoping that this will really get going fast and that this year, we will get rid of the enormous mining licensing backlog. That is what the Department of Mineral Resources wants to focus on they want to get rid of the backlog this year, which has the potential to uplift our economy significantly.

Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Martin will be back at the Coal-Face at the same time next Friday.