On-The-Air (04/12/2020)

4th December 2020 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

On-The-Air (04/12/2020)

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: While Australia’s trade relations with China are under huge strain, South Africa’s relations with the Asian giant are strengthening.

Creamer: Yes, I mean it is tremendous. I am just looking at a programme that has happened today. This is around the international platinum group metals and technical innovation and South Africans are there in large numbers. I think a lot will come out of this because this is indicative of China wanting to have new energy, new materials, new ecology.

We also have Minerals Council South Africa CEO Roger Baxter there, plus many people that are South Africans who work with the World Platinum Investment Council which is sponsored by Anglo American and a lot of other platinum group metals companies like Impala Platinum and Sedibelo. Really, South Africa there in full force and it is such a contrast to what is happening in Australia where ships are awaiting to off load coal for months on end and the Chinese will not let them dock, because there is a tick tack going on.

The Chinese were not allowed to build the 5G Huawei phone system in Australia and since then there has been a bit of trade tussle where commodities from Australia are not allowed into China and food stuff is not allowed into China. It is just the opposite now with South Africa where there seems to be a charm offensive going on. The two countries are really embracing one another and we also have the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed Glencore, yesterday renewing a long term cobalt arrangement with China. So, whatever South Africa is involved with is really working well, but when it comes to Australia’s relationships they are in a very bad way.

Kamwendo: Mining companies are going all out to become the darlings of the investor community once again.

Creamer: Mining companies are saying that if they go green and clean they will become the darlings of the investor community again. So, they are really putting in a strong effort. We see that Sedibelo is hoping to list on the stock exchange again, both in Johannesburg and elsewhere.

They are introducing a new process which will be sensational. It is called the Kell Process. It was partly developed in South Africa. By introducing this you use a fifth of the electricity and you do so much more on the site, including going all the way to refining. Now, that is just one of the steps. You see other companies making sure that there is no deforestation. They are planting trees and making sure that there is carbon capture from these trees.

They are also getting into their own equipment and instead of using diesel equipment they are switching over, although it is a long way to go, to clean hydrogen rather than using diesel. That is again an indication of how these platinum group metals can play a huge roll in cleaning up the planet as we go forward. We notice that smaller carbon footprints are the efforts of all the mining companies. They have been pointing towards carbon neutrality and they are setting dates for when they will be carbon neutral. So, very positive signs from the mining community.  

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