Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: Former Energy Director-General Nelisiwe Magubane this week called for clean coal technology to be introduced to stave off litigation.
Creamer: It was very interesting at the Fossil Fuel Foundation. They opened themselves to quite a lot of introspection and the keynote address was given by Nelisiwe Magubane, who is a former director general of the Department of Energy and who is now advising not only Eskom as a non-executive director, but a lot of the countries in Africa as well.
She is saying that South Africa particularly is such a litigious country that if it continues to really lower the quality of the air, particularly in Mpumalanga, before they know where they are they are going to be hit by litigation. As we saw in the gold mining industry, also going back many years of course with the silicosis, the class action settlement has been won by the mineworkers, who are going to get billions of rands in compensation. She is saying ditto for coal mining if they don't take precautions.
There are clean technologies that have introduced elsewhere in the world. Even for old power stations, if you co-fire with biomass, you can lower the sulphur emissions. She is urging that they actually take steps now to clean up the air to avoid litigation. Of course, it also opens the way for platinum, because we know that platinum has that ability to clean the air. We know that we have got so much platinum and we also have a lot of coal, so let’s work both on the roads and in the power stations to make sure that we do not pollute the air.
It is now being seen as a human right the world over that people are allowed to breathe clean air. You see protests and mayors coming out saying that they have committed to cleaning up the air. That is a situation that South Africa now is going to have to face, because it uses so much coal and there is such a concentration of coal-fired power stations in the Mpumalanga area that they need make sure that they clean up their act.
Kamwendo: Vigorous new investment in junior mining is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of this year.
Creamer: We have been wanting to promote the junior space and we actually need companies that are involved in investment management to come forward and do this as a way of catalysing and capitalising people who have these mining ideas, but they need to capacitated.
We see that a very bright 42-year old Sibusiso Mabuza, has set up a very promising situation in Aluwani Capital Partners, which already manages R57-billion worth of money as an asset manager, but has now set up a special mining fund, which it is putting in place. It has done all its roadshows. The investment acceptances are likely to be accepted from July and end in September, then the money will start being invested. They have already looked into the situation and see eight or nine opportunities.
Ironically, most of them are in coal, but that coal is not going to go to Eskom, that coal is going to go into China and India. So, you can see that the opportunities there still exist for coal, particularly in the Asean region and in parts of Asia, because steps are being taken to make sure that when that coal is burnt in order to generate electricity, it is also cleaned up. We see this new business Aluwani going to try and get juniors going and probably exporting from the Grindrod port in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Kamwendo: The positive role platinum can play to clean the world’s air was brought to the fore in Europe this week with the launch of a new clean-air alliance.
Creamer: In Leipzig, Germany, the major countries and all sorts of people got together who are involved with clean air and they attended the official launch of what is called the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance.
This gives a massive opening for platinum again. We see that Alstom was there with a major partner company and they have already launched trains that are driven by fuel cells. We know that the fuel cell is catalysed by platinum and that platinum comes from our soil here. We hold 80% at least of the world’s platinum supplies.
We also realise that companies around the world are gathering to make sure that this fuel cell goes ahead. I think we are not even 10 working days away from this massive big fuel cell and hydrogen forum, which is meeting in New York, with business, politicians and government to promote the fuel cell. It would be great if South Africa actually got itself involved in this sort of activity for the benefit of the platinum industry that is struggling at the moment.
They do have various people in London and various companies that are taking part, but it would be very interesting for South Africa to actually be more stringent on its own emission laws right in this country so that they can also be seen to be promoting platinum. That has been urged of them many times over, but we still have to see some action.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.