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: The development of a hydrogen roadmap for South Africa got under way this week.
Creamer: Yes, finally. We’ve been waiting for this for quite a long time, and now, the Department of Science and Innovation has taken the lead, but it is also doing so with other government departments and stakeholders in the country, because the hydrogen revolution is sweeping the world at the moment. We see that South Korea is going to build two cities, which are going to be called hydrogen cities. If the Olympics had gone ahead, we would have already seen that in Japan.
Germany has now strategised and they are specifically mentioning that hydrogen is going to play a role. We see the European Union meeting this week also mentioning hydrogen and how they need that rolled out for their green economy. California is doing the same and Australia is moving fast now with hydrogen. Our roadmap will be important and it’s good that they refer to it as a hydrogen roadmap for South African society and they are expressing the desire to develop a hydrogen society. We see that hydrogen is destined to be a universal energy carrier, not only in industry and commerce, but even in your home.
We see now that Bosch and Siemens are actually developing dishwashers that will be powered by hydrogen. When we see hydrogen, we must look to platinum, because our platinum plays a key catalysing role in producing the hydrogen and turning it into electricity when it comes to fuel cells in vehicles. We know that our storage facilities here that are used now used to store oil, petrol and diesel can also be converted to store for hydrogen, so that has the potential to save costs.
Kamwendo: A new Proudly South African Covid scanner has been launched to speed up the Covid screening process remarkably.
Creamer: Yes, you know mineworkers are having to line up and they having to pause to be screened. They do this before they go on shift, and they are having to be screened ahead of every shift. They continually screen, so that no one ends up going underground with a temperature. But the manual screening takes a bit of time.
Now, a company which is in security, has converted their security technology to enable mineworkers to come down in two rows and to continue walking at their normal pace and to be scanned thermally while they are moving. So they don’t have to stop to be screened. They can be screened while they are on the move. The company concerned has installed this thermal scanning technology at a Northern Cape mine and they are going to do 40 other installations to speed up the actual screening and make sure that it is done very well, because every day data will be compared to what it was yesterday.
The innovation now going from security to Covid and helping the process to be very well organised.
Kamwendo: The Minerals Council yesterday expressed deep sadness at the loss of 28 mineworkers to Covid.
Creamer: Yes, 28 mineworkers have passed away due to Covid on mines, and mines have a zero harm policy so it is hurting the mining industry very much. Although they are going all out to support their miners, protect their miners, screening and testing them, they are still having these fatalities. Although the mortality rate in mining is below South Africa’s mortality rate, they are now doing research to see exactly why these miners are dying and looking into the factors that are leading to these deaths, because they are very upset about all the health facilities that they are providing not being able to stop these deaths.
Mines have a zero harm philosophy, so they are going to fund research. They are getting input also from the rest of the world through the International Council of Mines and Metallurgy and other organisations. They are liaising with a lot of people to study this up, because 70% of the workers are now back at work. There is still a delay with the foreign workers coming back. The borders situation is not yet smooth.
Although 1 100 foreign workers were supposed to be back at this stage, only 700 could actually get through the borders, because of new systems that Home Affairs has put into place and also, the fact that they have to arrange routing with the South African Police Services. They are trying to agree on changes and agree route arrangements ahead of time in liaison with the police. Hopefully that will see more foreign mineworkers returning.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.