On-The-Air (28/08/2020)

28th August 2020 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

On-The-Air (28/08/2020)

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: South Africa has the good fortune of being blessed with what the world is hailing as the ‘rock star’ metals of the moment.

Creamer: Yes, with Covid and climate change people are going for metals and they are calling them ‘rock star’ metals, because these are the ones that are going to keep us healthy and clean in the future. South Africa has a whole hand full of them, we are so lucky. Ninety percent of rhodium comes from our Bushveld Complex. Rhodium is the biggest rock star of all. That price is now five times higher as the gold price and it is still has got momentum. The demand has just built up enormously around the world. You have China legislating again emissions and particularly nitros oxide. Nitros oxide is what they don’t want in the air in Europe, US, India and China. The metal that can take that nitros oxide out most efficiently from moving vechicle is rhodium and that price is going up to about $12 000 per ounce and it just doesn’t want to stop. In fact, we can’t produce enough of it. There is also the palladium, which is doing very well and rothemium. Platinum is the laggard, but they know that in the distance that is also going to get a lot of demand, so they are very pleased to be producing that as well.

Kamwendo: Anglo American Platinum has been able to give communities R2-billion thanks to soaring platinum group metal prices.

Creamer: The group metal prices has pushed share prices of the various mining companies to very high levels. Nine years ago Anglo American Platinum made a deal with the communities where they said that the communities you are going to become shareholders of our company and you need to hold these shares over a period of time and then they will eventually vest, which means that they pay cash out from them. Then we can do education, health and infrastructure things. This was only supposed to vest next year, but because the share price of Anglo American Platinum is doing so exceptionally well they decided that it is better to actually get this value out right now. So, they took that decision to get the R2-billion worth of shares that the community has and these communities are concentrated quite largely in Limpopo and the go in and discuss with the communities how they are going to spend this money at a time where South Africa really needs money spent in this way. The trusts that they deal with are very transprarent. The actual decision making is very open, so it is done in a very good way. We also see that Amplats has just helped in Zimbabwe as well. We are struggling here in rural areas particularly Zimbabwe is also struggling to get hospitals going. So, Amplats have an Unki mine there and they have just now donated equipment for intensive care unit at the Gweru hospital. They have also done a lot of covid-19 workplace host activities with the communities there. I think a lot of the mines are going the extra mile particularly during this covid period to try help communities.

Kamwendo: The earnings from South Africa’s biggest gold-from-dumps miner are poised to rocket sevenfold.

Creamer: We go past these mine dumps and tailings dumps and we know that there is gold in there. We obviously know that it is not easy to get it out and the company DRDGold has been perfecting this over the years. It used to be called Durban Roodepoort Deep. We used to call it the Roodepoort Rocket, but I think it has become far more of a rocket now that it is concentrated just on dumps. The gold price looks really well and because of that they are saying that their earnings will be up seven times higher then normal in this half year period. So, all over the place we find that the mines are really pumping. I just listened to Northam Platinum giving there results a few minutes ago. They are also talking record breaking returns. It is so valuable at this time that the countries are struggling that atleast you have got one industry that is really pushing out a lot of money and cash is pumped their. They are very concious of putting this into the communities. Also very concious on keeping on paying their workers even though non of their foreign workers at Northam are back yet. But they are still not only paying them their full salaries, but they are also giving them their bonusses and normal provident fund and housing allowance. It is a very good industry and I think that we should make sure that it develops and grow far stronger if we gave it more attention.

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