Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’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: The ANC made a strong call at this week’s Joburg Indaba for the firming up of a 2030 vision for the South African mining industry
Creamer: It was a tremendous Joburg Indaba. The feelings were deep and the new roadmap is being laid out. Enoch Godongwana, the ANC Economics Committee Chairperson set the pace with this keynote address saying that this is an industry that needs a long term strategic vision and he couldn't be more right. They always look so far ahead they are looking 20 to 30 years ahead.
That is why there has to be such a lot of certainty and this is now being acknowledged. He is also saying that the trust deficit is being wiped out. There is more trust than ever between the industry stakeholders, because this is what held the industry back. He lamented how it had just gone in a downward path since 1995, decimating jobs, decimating the gold output and how this needed to be recovered. Of course, it came against the background of the new road map wanted for mining, because this is the fly-wheel of our economy.
If it doesn’t work the whole economy suffers. They are saying let’s acknowledge past injustice and seek forgiveness. The industry is really saying let’s look at ourselves and seek forgiveness. Then they must unwind the legacy of distrust. That is for the benefit of the country’s economy as a whole. They acknowledge that the industry has failed to act humanely in the past, failed to act morally in the past.
Now, they are looking to coming together strongly with labour. In fact, Bobby Godsell, who was part of the hall of fame there, gave a very important speech saying that labour and business must come together in an unresistible force to make these proper changes in the industry once and for all, and also to shame the government into putting reform on the table and rectifying the situation.
Of course there was labour there as well and James Motlatsi made a strong call for transparency and is saying the workers must know what is going on in this industry. In fact, he said it would help the gold theft situation if people actually understood how many ounces of gold were in the ore body so that everybody knew if there was a deficit, because there was this accusation that there are two balance sheets and that people don’t know which one is correct, particularly Joseph Mathunjwa. He said which balance sheet do we look at when we come to negotiate the wages.
That is because of the United Nations report. That report has been proved totally incorrect. It came out of Kenya and it was just totally wrong. The world press has acknowledged it, Financial Times and all the media acknowledge that this is really not the situation that the huge amounts of gold that they say are being smuggled out of the country is just not the case. They got their figures wrong.
But, of course this upsets the labour movement and they wonder if always pleading poverty is really correct and which balance sheet you are looking at when you set our wages and complaint about having to go into the belly of the earth, dangerous situations with high temperatures, for R5 000 a month. This was highlighted again. A lot of good work done at the Joburg Indaba.
Kamwendo: Yet another project is on the cards for the recovery of gold from old Golden City mine dumps.
Creamer: Just about every week we come here and there is another dump that is being turned to account. We saw Central Rand Gold, which is listed in Johannesburg and London.
Their shares soar on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange 65% yesterday and 12% in London on the news that they want to take an old dump that is 120 years old. This material goes back to 1890’s, 10 km from their metallurgical plant here in Joburg and owned by a third party, which includes their black economic empowerment partner.
They have been drilling into it and finding out how much gold there is too put through their plant. They are talking about a significant amount of gold coming through that with the sums still being done. You can see that this is happening in Mpumalanga where we have got that R1,7-billion plan to get more out of the Barberton and Evander dumps.
We see on the West Rand Sibanye Gold looking at putting through quite a big tonnage through their planned plant there. The biggest one of all is the DRD on the East Rand putting through 2-million tonnes of material and getting some very good returns.
You can see their share price rocket between October and April it went from R600-million market capitalization to R4-billion. You can see how these gold shares are rising on the back of news of more gold being recovered from dumps.
Kamwendo: Proudly South African locally designed aircraft will start coming of the production line in Gauteng early in the New Year.
Creamer: We don't anticipate that the private sector can do things in the air particularly in South Africa. We have long history of course of aeronautics here, but we see now Proudly South African locally designed, developed and manufactured aircraft coming off the production line early in the New Year.
We can see pictures already of the factory that is being built at the Wonderboom Airport. We haven’t seen such activity at Wonderboom for decades. This is an initial investment and they say that they have got more ground if they need to expand. This is the Ahrlac aircraft that will travel at about 500 km an hour.
It will also be running parallel with the Mwari, which is the only privately funded military aircraft for the tough economic times. It will be quite low cost and it is creating a lot of interest even in America.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.