JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The South African government must introduce stringent anti-emission legislation as well as press for the platinum equivalent of the gold Kruger Rand, Royal Bafokeng Platinum CEO Steve Phiri insists.
Phiri expressed dismay at the government, as custodian of the world’s major platinum endowment, failing to introduce adequate platinum-catalysed vehicle emission control and allowing bureaucracy to get in the way of platinum coin minting, at a time when 70% “or more” of the South African platinum industry is unprofitable.
In an interview with Mining Weekly Online following the presentation of Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s lossmaking financial results for the six months to June 30, Phiri emphasised the need for South Africa to promulgate emission legislation beyond the relatively low Euro 2 level and accused the government of being environmentally insensitive.
“Our message to particularly the regulators and government is that you cannot produce 80% of the world’s platinum group metals and still be on Euro 2,” the head of the 52% black-community-owned Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed platinum mining company stated.
Euro 2 is a long-replaced standard to control vehicle exhaust fumes, with even developing non-European countries already at Euro 6 in their global fight against ill health and climate change.
“We need to put our money where our mouth is,” said Phiri, who decried South Africa being content to live with dirty air at a time when its platinum was helping to clean the air of the world’s major cities.
“How can you sell washing soap while you yourself choose to remain dirty?” he asked.
In addition to the introduction of stringent anti-emission legislation, Phiri wants to see the introduction of a platinum Mandela coin.
The decision of the Royal Mint, in the UK, to launch its first-ever platinum bullion products has rekindled hopes that the South African Mint will wipe the dust off plans for a platinum Mandela coin and mimic some of South Africa’s gold success with the 50-year-old Kruger coin.
Phiri denounced the affront of the South African platinum industry being prevented from being able to achieve a platinum coin breakthrough “because of regulatory red tape”.
The world’s clean-air programme is being spearheaded by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which connects more than 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 650-million-plus people and a quarter of the global economy.
Their action has prompted a response from World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) CE Paul Wilson, who expressed the WPIC’s keenness to contribute to the initiative by way of fact-rooted dialogue and focussed proactivity.
WPIC was created three years ago by South African platinum mining companies Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Aquarius, Impala, Lonmin, Northam and Royal Bafokeng Platinum.
In a comprehensive address to the Investing in African Mining Indaba earlier this year, Ivanhoe executive chairperson Robert Friedland flashed on to a big screen graphics showing platinum-catalysed fuel cell vehicles role in doing the main lifting in the bid to stop tiny particles in the air of major urban cities from entering lungs, getting into the blood stream and then going permanently beyond the blood brain barrier.
“In fact, the closer you live to a major urban road, the higher the chances of dementia and air pollution particles are definitely linked to higher cancer and death risk,” Friedland told the Investing in African Mining Indaba, attended by Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.
Last year, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor called for the compilation of a hydrogen and fuel cell roadmap and revealed that Japan and South Africa were working on a high-temperature solar plant, taking solar power to produce the hydrogen that is needed for the platinum-catalysed fuel cells.
Fuel cell electric vehicles are beginning to roll off the production lines of many of the world’s biggest automotive manufacturers and hydrogen refueling infrastructure is being set up in Germany, Japan and California.
Amplats reported at its latest results presentation that the first five months of this year saw 18 000 orders for both buses and light delivery vehicles in China, which is targeting one-million fuel cell electric vehicle sales by 2030 – the equivalent of 300 000 oz of platinum demand.