Every Friday morning, SAfm's AMLive's radio anchor Tsepiso Makwetla speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday's At the Coalface transcript:
Makwetla: South Africa's biggest fresh-water-from-the-sea plant is about to come on stream in the Eastern Cape.
Creamer: Desalination of seawater into drinking water is becoming a bigger issue world wide and we see it now in South Africa in the Eastern Cape. We have got our biggest desalination plant near Kenton-on-Sea and is part of the Albany Coast Water Board and it will be producing at a rate of about 1 800 cubic metres a day.
This is in response to the need for more fresh water in the Eastern Cape. We see that there have been water constraints in those areas for some time and now people are glancing over at the sea and saying that there is a lot of water that we can get out of there and successfully being able to do it through the reverse-osmosis process and with the help of VWS Envig.
In Namibia the same thing's happening. We see that uranium miners there are short of water looking to the sea, putting up desalination plants, a trend that is going to be accentuated, but there is the problem with what do you do with the brine that remains, the salty substance that comes after you've done this process.
Albany have done the study and found that putting it back into the Bushmans River Mouth is not going to be a big problem because that water is already salty and farmers upstream having been taking off a lot of water, which has caused that to be really just part of the sea. So no big impact from the environmental point of view in this instance.
Makwetla: Transnet is buying 100 new locomotives for R2,4-billion - and 90 of the 100 will be produced locally, in South Africa.
Creamer: It is fantastic that we can keep up our local manufacturing programme and although these locomotives are urgent from Transnet's point of view, they still made sure that we get that local content. Only ten of these 100 locos that are being bought now will be built in the US.
The remaining 90 will be assembled here in South Africa and they are doing it as a partnership with the State-owned Transnet Rail Engineering. That is the old Transwerk and have workshops in Koedoespoort and elsewhere in South Africa.
They have got the expertise on how to build the locomotives and now that is being used. So, 90 of these will be built in South Africa itself over a period of time going to 2012. We know that there will be more locos needed, because the Transnet locomotive fleet is aging and they need to upgrade it.
They actually wanted 212 locomotives, but there was an irregularity with tender that was put out. They had to cancel that tender and put out a new tender. This has now been won by General Electric South Africa Technologies and working in tandem with the State-owned Transnet Rail Engineering.
We will have this local content in South Africa.
Makwetla: We have been speaking a lot about this, South Africa's home-built satellite is progressing excellently.
Creamer: Yes, still going like clock work, coming over South Africa at about nine o'clock in the morning, every day, but still having to be managed very carefully. We are lucky that we actually manufactured this satellite ourselves.
So, it is being managed at the moment by the builders of that satellite and they are SunSat in Stellenbosch. But, gradually, because it is a State-owned satellite, control must go to the State and which is why it is going to be handed over, over a period of time.
It is in the process of commissioning. SunSat down in Stellenbosch still managing this transition period where it goes over to Hartebeeshoek and then it will be managed from there. We see that the biggest payload it carries, the imager, that has had to be refocused already, because there is a lot of impact on the satellite as it goes speeding around the earth at about 500 km above the earth. It is a 81 kg satellite.
We have had one in the past which was smaller and was also built by SunSat and was put into orbit in 1999. That is no longer operational so this is our only South African satellite at the moment, State-owned, doing well and about to be transferred fully to the Hartebeeshoek Satellite Application Centre.
Makwetla: 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.