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: Strong steps are being taken internationally to stop criminals from getting stolen gold into the market.
Creamer: This was a theme at the Mining Indaba, where it has become apparent that this criminal activity is so fierce. We see that in South Africa where these days you don’t have people chipping away underground and trying to get away with some gold in an illegal mine. They come armed and you get an army of 40, all carrying AK47s, and we have had 19 violent attacks in Gauteng and North West, where they just hold up the gold plant and they take the concentrated gold out of there. If anyone steps in the way, they get killed. We have seen two big situations where there have been murders of two security officers in these situations. Now, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) is taking very strong steps to elevate the whole procedure of checking where gold comes from. They have got 70 refiners and they have got auditors and they want to know exactly where every little last bit of ounce of gold is coming from, so that they can try and put their foot down and stop this criminality.
Kamwendo: Minerals Council South Africa is going all out to boost junior mining.
Creamer: Yes, the Minerals Council South Africa is associated with big mines. They want to show that they want to push this small mines. Most of the rights are in the hands of small miners, 30% - 40% of their members are now juniors and they produce something like R50-billion last year, but spent more than that, so they are in a loss-making situation. They are going to the government all the time to try and improve the situation for the junior miners who are only classified as juniors if they have a turnover below R150-million a year, which is absolutely laughable and they are trying to push this to a higher level so that more people can be classified as juniors and do a proper mining job in South Africa.
Kamwendo: Diamond miners may use airships to replace winter roads in frozen parts of Canada to mitigate against climate change.
Creamer: Winter roads have to be built in these very frozen places in north of Canada, where they are mining diamonds. These winter roads are built for start in February and by March they are already unusable. This is getting worse and worse. They are getting flooded, the rails are getting flooded and you can’t use these facilities. Coming in now they want big airships that are going to be used and carry the equipment to the mines. Our own De Beers, which is planning the big Chidliak project, are looking at this idea of having airships filled with hydrogen, to deliver their goods, rather than building winter roads.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.