Every Friday morning, SAfm's AMLive's radio anchor Florence Letoaba speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday's At the Coalface transcript:
Letoaba: Chinese investors have made two bids in as many weeks for gold and platinum mines.
Creamer: Chinese investors in Africa have been very active, in South Africa, not as active, particularly in mining. Now we see them moving through and they go to stressed situations, and they look for bargains.
So, we see in the case of platinum, which is a fantastic world metal at the moment with a great future, they are looking at Wesizwe Platinum where there has been a problem with funding because of the international global meltdown, they found themselves in a funding problem.
Also, there have been problems with the community there, who are part owners. The Chinese are coming in with what you can add up to being R7-billion in all and this is Jinchuan, which is quite a big nickel company backed by Cadfund, which is a big Chinese Development funder.
They are wanting 51%, so that is another thing about it, they will get control if this deal goes through and it should take about three months. They will be prepared to fund the project, which will take many billions to do. Also, on the gold side we see now the Chinese making a bid for the troubled Aurora mines.
There is Orkney and Grootvlei and there has been a funding delay and now the Chinese have moved in there and want to possibly bid slightly more for Orkney and match what was bid for Grootvlei and buy Aurora, which is led by Zondwa Mandela and Khulubuse Zuma and possibly wrest control of that from people who are also having funding problems.
Letoaba: South Africa's new mineral beneficiation strategy will be handed in for Cabinet approval any day now. What can we expect to hear?
Creamer: Well, we can expect a new strategy in terms of adding value. When we look at beneficiation we add value. We haven't been doing that to any great extent in South Africa.
We mine a lot of minerals and metals, but we then export them. It is a very important thing to do, because you are earning foreign exchange and it earns about half our foreign exchange. But, for a long time now the governments of the bay have been looking at adding value and now Susan Shabangu has come forward with a strategy, which she is going to pass on to the cabinet.
This, I understand, is going to look at ten metals and minerals, so they won't look at everything, and they will create five value chains from those metals. The idea will be to create the value chains that build up a local demand for those metals and minerals, which normally go out of the country.
We can just look at chrome, for instance, we have a lot of chrome, I think most of the chrome in the world and we do beneficiate that to some extent, we take it to ferrochrome. But, we haven't done much in the stainless steel front although we produce about 1% of the world's stainless steel that is now owned by a Spanish company, no longer South Africa.
What we want to do is take it even further and develop more the autocatalysis side, which can also take in platinum. So, there is a lot of cross linkages that they want to do, but the big idea is to go downstream and create more jobs and more wealth.
Letoaba: Of course, on a lighter note, the Gautrain goes commercial from Tuesday. Exciting news.
Creamer: Exciting news. We thought that the Gautrain may not be ready for the World Cup, but people put their best foot forward and they've come in slightly ahead of their official schedule but definitely not below budget.
It is a R25,4-billion project which started off in the year 2000 where it was going to be R4-billion, then it went to R7-billion, but the reality ten years later is that it is R25,4-billion. The good news is that people coming in now to OR Tambo will be able to from 05h30 in the morning on Tuesday it will go commercial and they will be able to get on that and in 14 minutes be in Sandton.
They will be R100 and the R100 is for the casual users. So, it can go down to R16,50 when you actually have multiple use and you also use parking. It is linked to bus services as well, so you can get your one ticket, it is a smartcard, and you can get your bus backing, parking backing and also the train.
That will take you into Sandton at this point in time, only that one section of the line ready, but it is important for it to be ready because of the World Cup coming in.
Letoaba: Well, I must tell you Mr Creamer that I am getting on that Gautrain that very Tuesday and I'm very excited. 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.