May 04, 2012
Engineering|Africa|Aircraft|CoAL|Defence|Denel|Engineering News|Google|Mining|Mining Weekly|Planetary Resources|Platinum|Resources|Rio Tinto|Africa|Australia|Brazil|Chile|Liberia|Mozambique|South Africa|United States|USD|A Lot Of Equipment|Equipment|Film Maker|Products|Eric Anderson|James Cameron|Larry Page|Martin Creamer|Susan Shabangu|Queensland|Tete|Engineering News
© Reuse this
Gwala: New US company Planetary Resources wants to mine platinum in outer space, and plans an initial space launch in the next 24 months.
Creamer: I just hope these Americans don't start raining on our parade. The platinum patch belongs to Southern Africa. They are claiming, this Planetary Resources, that there is much more platinum out in space than there has been mined on the earth so far. What they want to do is they want to look at the low-hanging fruit, the asteroids.
Science fiction writers have been writing about asteroids and the potential of metals and minerals on these asteroids for a long a time.
They want to turn that science fiction into a reality. I think all the journalists listening to them on April 24 when they announced this dramatic thing were stunned. When they said that they will have their first launch into space in 24 months, the guys just broke into applause, because you needed a timeline.
We’ve been speaking about mining in space for about three decades and NASA has actually developed a lot of equipment to mine in space, but to actually get up there is going to be a different story. These guys were saying that they are finished with the talk.
They are backed by Larry Page of Google, which is one of the investors, James Cameron the film maker is one of the investors.
Eric Anderson and his co-partner have all taken people into space. These are all people who are very familiar with space flights. They want to send telescopes in initially just like miners go out and prospect they are going to send five telescopes up in the next two years, the timeline is pretty soon.
The big thing, of course, will be to actually mine those asteroids. Its all very well looking at them and seeing what’s on them and choosing the ones that you know have got metals and minerals, but then to actually mine up there without people, which is what they are going to do, they are going to use robots.
They say that they could fail and obviously they could, but even if they develop all this technology I think it will help a lot of other industries, because a lot of people will be interested to see what they see up there and will also be interested to get some of those telescopes. If they do advance in the robotics area then perhaps we could use those robots to mine at our deep level. So perhaps something will come out of it.
We hope that they don’t mess up the platinum market, because all they spoke about was platinum at $1 500 an ounce being the thing to get. Its only $ 1 500 an ounce because its rare, we don’t want everyone to have it, so they must watch out.
Gwala: Lets only hope that the technology that will come out of this will help us as we mine platinum.
Creamer: Mozambique now decided to actually call in bids for some of its very valuable coking coal. We have been watching Mozambique in the Tete province and we have been comparing it to Queensland in Australia.
When you go to Queensland and you ask them where does all the wealth come from, they say that it is the coking coal from the Bowen Basin. What they’ve found in Mozambique is similar to the Bowen Basin, very rich coking coal.
We’ve seen some of the big names go in there and spend billions of dollars just to get assets. Smaller miners have actually done all the hard yards and then the bigger ones have come in and paid billions of dollars. Rio Tinto was one of them and Vale of Brazil is another.
Now the Mozambique government has said that they know what is in the ground now, now is the time to auction. Now is the time to get some of those billions up front ourselves to eradicate some of our own poverty. Mozambique is planning now this year to call for bids. We saw Liberia did the same thing, auction some of the areas that they know, get some top dollar out of it.
I see that Susan Shabangu our own Minister is toying with this idea of auctioning, particularly where there are lapsed mineral rights and revoked mineral rights or where you know there is a lot of value in the ground. You’ve got data, why not call for a round of auctions and get the highest bidder in rather then on the first-come first-served situation like that, where they known riches are there.
Gwala: South African defence products are attracting the attention of another South American country, this time Chile.
Creamer: Chile is suddenly interested in our surface-to-air missiles.
We’ve seen the Brazilian Navy actually working with South Africa on the development of a new range of surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft missiles, where we seem to have a robust niche. Suddenly Chile is saying that they like what we’ve got on offer here. We know that the Finnish Navy is using our product.
The Finns are using the ones supplied by Denel, which is a surface-to-air missile. Our own South African Navy, of course, is using the surface-to-air missiles. The Chileans will be content, I think, to use what we’ve got.
The Brazilians are looking a bit further at what we call the Umkhonto-R, which is a long-range radar-guided missile, which South Africa and Brazil are developing together. I’m sure that there will be quite a lot of demand for that once they actually make sure that it turns from a development into an actual product.
Gwala: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Updated 1 hour 15 minutes ago South African Airways (SAA) has enhanced its partnership with the airline’s in-flight duty-free concessionaire Tourvest Inflight Retail Services (TIRS), enabling Voyager members to earn miles when buying duty-free products and spend their miles when shopping for...
Updated 1 hour 24 minutes ago South Africa's new visa regulations are having an adverse impact on the country's tourism industry without proof that they are making any impact on child trafficking, according to Hussein Dabbas, International Air Traffic Association (Iata) regional vice-president...
Updated 1 hour 27 minutes ago The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a semi-autonomous solution for early pothole detection to potentially replace the often time-consuming expensive manual road inspection. Showcasing the Visual Surveying Platform (VSP), CSIR...
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
This Week's Magazine
At the sixth IQ Business conference held in Sandton last month, a panel of business leaders and academics advocated that business reclaims the initiative to spur growth in South Africa amid fragmented and haphazard political direction. Management consulting firm IQ...
The building industry is an essential component of the South African economy as it contributes about 15% to the gross fixed investment that drives the economy. However, with the country’s economy going through a tough time currently, this, in turn, reflects on the...
The recipients of the 2015 South African National Energy Association (Sanea)/South African National Energy Development Institute Energy (Sanedi) Awards were announced at a ceremony and banquet in Sandton last month. Sanea chairperson Brian Statham named Exxaro CEO...
As South African information technology (IT) firm EOH posted another full year of strong growth, CEO Asher Bohbot, known for his frank words, people-centric management style and stoic humanism, attributed the company’s continued South African and African growth to...
International heavy-equipment engine manufacturer Cummins’ regional distribution centre (RDC) in Woodmead, Gauteng, has halved the average logistics distribution time for clients in Southern Africa and allowed for critical or long-lead stock to be kept closer to...