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: Platinum jewellery sales are heading for a very good year, the global platinum promoter, Platinum Guild International (PGI), reported this week.
Creamer: It is very good news that the jewellery sales are up, because the platinum industry is needing every bit of demand that it can get. Two years ago, in 2016, China, the biggest buyer of platinum jewellery, went into a bit of a wobble, but they are coming out of that very strongly.
China is moving to be more consumer centric and the PGI, which has been going for four decades and has been financed by South African mining companies who mine platinum, they are now reporting that they are heading for a very good year. Of course, the low platinum price also helps jewellery. Every time the platinum price falls, we find that the demand for platinum jewellery soars.
We know that China is a massive source of demand that we sell 2,4-million ounces of platinum that go into jewellery and China takes 1,7-million of that. They take 70% of that, so it is a very important area. But, we are also, of course, promoting in India where the growth has been 24% so far this year. Japan is still growing even though it is a mature market as the starter of all this four decades ago. The US is also growing at over 10%, so very good news from the Platinum Jewellery Guild.
Kamwendo: South Africa’s amazing Zebra Battery, which we invented and then allowed to slip out of our grasp, has resurfaced in Switzerland, where it is showing huge promise.
Creamer: We developed that Zebra Battery and the name Zebra, of course, means everything, it is South African. But, the holder of that name at the moment is in fact in Italy. Even the Swiss have got a start-up now coming out of their blocks with a company called Battery Consult to go for this Zebra Battery in a big way.
They would also love to call it the Zebra Battery and they want to actually export into South Africa, but at the moment that name is held elsewhere. It just shows you the distance that an invention can go if you don’t grasp it. I can remember in the eighties Anglo American was so keen on the Zebra Battery that they actually got the chairman of the company to get into a flashy car and to drive around Johannesburg using this power from the Zebra Battery.
That was how advanced it was. Of course, Anglo American listing on the London Stock Exchange, had repercussions that were very negative for us. I can remember within the audience when these cheeky analysts came through from London and said what are you doing with a Zebra Battery, you are supposed to be miners, that was what London wanted.
They wanted Anglo to slim down and be a mining company. We can see the disastrous effect that it had for South Africa. All the London listing has done has been that we give dividends into this huge market. We never raised a cent in London and that was supposed to be the reason why we went there. Now, we have got this battery, its time has come.
What they are saying now is that you could have this battery in your home, so that when you have got your solar panel on your roof and its night time or maybe there is no sun, you would still have this battery to give you energy. It is low cost and uses salt. It was developed right here and now it’s in the hands of the people in Switzerland who are so excited about it that they want to spread it throughout the world and it will probably end up here, but not as a South African product.
Something that we buy and this we must be careful of. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research let this slip out of its hands and that’s turned out to be very bad news for all of us.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.