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On-The-Air (08/03/2024)

Martin Creamer talks about iron-ore, manganese and platinum use.

8th March 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:

Kamwendo: South African mining company Menar is taking steps to explore for iron-ore and manganese in Gabon.

Creamer: It was interesting that Gabon was well represented at our recent Mining Indaba in Cape Town. This is when Menar, which has done a lot of investment in South Africa, took the opportunity to do a one on one interview with the government of Gabon. This ended up with a memorandum of understanding being signed.

The target for Menar is to get prospecting licenses in Gabon so that it can go for iron-ore and manganese. It already mines manganese in South Africa on a small scale, it is bigger in coal here, and now it wants to look at manganese further up in Africa as well, in Gabon. I think this alerts South Africa to the fact that we need to get going on our exploration here. People want to explore more in South Africa, but we have got this hold up with our mining licenses cadastre. The sooner we get that going, the better because people are ready to come forward and invest in exploration.

Kamwendo: Platinum demand created by the use of green hydrogen is expected to soar by 120% this year.

Creamer: This is amazing and this means that the link of hydrogen to platinum, which we mine so much of in South Africa, is growing progressively stronger against the background of $300-billion worth of government subsidies available around the world for those who go into green hydrogen. That’s something like R5-trillion out there ready for people to invest in green hydrogen, because this is to protect Mother Earth from more destruction and that is what subsidising governments are wanting in Europe and in North America.

They are wanting people to invest in green hydrogen as an energy carrier and to do that they get subsidies. This is why World Platinum investment Council, which is funded by five of South Africa’s big platinum group metal mines, reported this week that their calculations are that, admittedly off a low base, it is forecast that the demand for platinum from green hydrogen will lift by 120% this year.

Kamwendo: South Africans are helping to stage a week-long event in China to boost demand for platinum.

Creamer: South Africans are helping to design and promote the Shanghai Platinum Week 2024, which is very important, because the price of platinum at the moment is not really reflecting the demand. The demand is big, but there has been a disruption of price, because of sales outside of South Africa as well as big stockpiles being held by the automotive sector.

They built up stockpiles during the Covid pandemic, when car sales were down. Those stockpiles are now largely depleted and it is hoped that the Shanghai Platinum Week will showcase platinum’s many key uses to promote the metal and its price still further. Holding the event in China is important because China is the biggest user of platinum. Many more fuel cell electric vehicles are being built in China and stationary green hydrogen generation is also advancing, which will help to grow platinum demand still further. The hope is that South Africa will soon see a turnaround in the price of platinum and make sure that this country’s many platinum mining companies don't have to retrench staff on the basis of the metal’s weak price. Many platinum mining companies fear they may have to reduce their number of employees if the price doesn't rise.

Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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