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Govt urges coal sector to step up pace in rolling out clean technologies

Govt urges coal sector to step up pace in rolling out clean technologies

Photo by Creamer Media

30th January 2020

By: Kim Cloete

Creamer Media Correspondent

     

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CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Government has assured the coal mining sector that coal will remain a vital part of South Africa’s energy mix, but has called on companies to step up the pace in adopting clean coal technologies.

Department of Mineral Resources and Energy director-general Thabo Mokoena told delegates attending the fifteenth annual Southern African Coal Conference, in Cape Town, that investments had to be made in new and efficient coal technologies to help the country meet its climate adaptation goals.

“You need to invest in technologies. It must not just be rhetoric. We need to get it off the ground, so that we comply with conventions that we have entered into as a country. We need to prioritise this, so that coal continues to make a positive contribution to the growth and development of our economy.”

Through technology, the carbon dioxide produced in the process is captured and stored safely underground. This helps in the fight against climate change by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere.

Mokoena also urged companies and researchers to focus on technologies that would help to conserve water.

“Environmental challenges that come with coal applications should spur us to be more creative and innovative.”

Mokoena said a just transition and fair energy mix was essential, particularly considering the coal sector’s contribution to the economy, the many thousands of jobs it sustains and its value in export earnings.

The director-general said he was aware of protests about the environmental effects of coal but stressed that it was "essential to have a balanced approach".

As delegates met inside the Westin Hotel conference venue, climate activists, waving placards and scattering small lumps of coal on the ground, gathered outside the conference venue. They said they were protesting against the harmful effects of coal and its widespread contribution to the world’s CO2 emissions. 

They called for coal to be replaced with wind and solar energy and other renewable technologies.

During his keynote address to the conference, Mokoena assured delegates that the role of these other energy sources was important.

"Anyone has the right to protest within the ambit of the law but it doesn’t mean what you [the coal industry] are doing is wrong. What you are doing is not wrong. You are trying to assist the country in meeting its needs in terms of energy supply and are continuing to provide our people with jobs.”

He said Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe aimed to adopt a balanced approach.  

“The Minister has been labelled as a coal fundamentalist, but he is just realistic in terms of the challenges we face as a country. We need to be more objective and realistic about the challenges. Coal makes up 83% of the country’s electricity generation.”

Mokoena said the Integrated Resource Plan was "achievable" and that the government would come up with "an amicable solution" through dialogue with a range of players and a task team. This included a meeting last week with the Minerals Council and other business leaders.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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