Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’s radio anchor Gillian De Gouveia speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
De Gouveia: Interesting, trash into cash. Houses are being built with material recovered from polluted Mpumalanga mine water.
Creamer: Yes, this is the acid-mine drainage curse. People see it as a curse, but that water can also be mined. Anglo American and BHP Billiton, the two biggest companies in coal mining out in Mpumalanga, are turning that acid-mine drainage into potable water.
We that they are supplying it into the municipality and that people are drinking that water, but also they are looking further.
They are mining water and what they can get out of that are minerals. One of the minerals that they’ve extracted is gypsum. They have turned that gypsum into bricks and they are building houses with the bricks.
So 66 houses have been built and they look fabulous and now they are going to build another 300. They are building at slightly lower costs, but that’s not were the saving is really, the big saving is not having to transport this waste to a landfill site and provide the landfill site as well.
They are making use of this material and the more they can make use of that acid-mine drainage, we’ve seen other people do it, who got nitrates out of it and gave it to African Explosives and created explosives. We saw the explosives work. So there is money in muck, as they say.
De Gouveia: Sounds absolutely extraordinary. Do you think it is a solution to the acid-mine drainage problem here in Johannesburg?
Creamer: I think it is a solution. Some people say that they need, perhaps, more water and that they need to combine that acid-mine drainage with the normal sewage and effluent that you’ve got and then also mine the sewage and effluent for its phosphates, which could create some fertiliser material.
De Gouveia: Pick n Pay is ‘picking’ the sun rather than Eskom for its future electricity supply. Tell us a bit about that.
Creamer: You know Pick n Pay. We are supposed to pick the most there and pay the least, well they are starting to do their own picking.
You can see now that they are looking to sun energy to energise themselves. If you are travelling to Pretoria on the freeway close to Modderfontein you look to the right and see that big warehouse distribution centre, a massive big place, that roof is now covered with solar panels.
They can get 150 kW of electricity out of that turn a direct current into alternating current and supply that big distribution centre. The big story behind it, of course, is that people are seeing that there is a business case here.
With Eskom rates going up and poised to go up on quite a continual basis, they are saying that we can actually produce this electricity at lower cost and over a ten year period, it will be payback. At the same time they have got that independence for when there are black outs.
Then along the way you have got carbon credits. They are keeping 6 000 tons of carbon dioxide out of atmosphere and there are credits that they can claim for that. So you can actually turn it into a bit of a revenue stream as well.
De Gouveia: Saving money by going green.
Creamer: Saving money by going green and they could market that greenness.
De Gouveia: Johannesburg is one of 20 global cities where revolutionary new school tuition may be introduced.
Creamer: This is an incredible idea that the Americans are introducing. They will start this new school in Manhattan next year. This school will be one school in 20 world cities. So, the kids what they learn in New York they will be learning in Johannesburg through new technology.
What they learn in Mumbai they will be learning in Beijing. There will also be some compulsory languages and one of the compulsory languages will be Chinese.
Some of these kids at certain stages could be doing their mathematics in Mandarin, for instance. They are trying to create an ethos, which is one school but many different countries.
The kids will go in from the age of three, toddlers, all the way up to the age of 18. So you’ve got the kindergarten to matric. The cost is going to be quite astronomical. They’ve raised their first R500-million or $75-million from private equity funds.
That is to rebuild this edifice that they have at Manhattan, that will be the starting point. Then they anticipate the cash-flows from that will be raised to buy the other locations, including Johannesburg.
The tuition fees are astronomical in rand terms I don’t even want to mention them, but its about $40 000 a year. Yet, they couldn’t keep the people out when they put these ads into the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, there was only standing room, the people were just flocking in to get their kids in early.
The idea is to go from kindergarten right up into the deep teens and to have one school, one ethos, and people will learn the same in Sydney as they are doing in Moscow, through modern technology. They will also have interaction between each other. It is going to be an interesting experience.
De Gouveia: Any ideas to a location in Johannesburg.
Creamer: I’m sure it will be in Sandton, but they haven’t actually bought anything that they’ve disclosed. Their first couple of meetings have taken place in New York and people have been flocking to them and they have been laying out their plans and the name Johannesburg has come up.
De Gouveia: 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.