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 Africa’s first hydrogen corridor now under development will generate a minimum of 14 000 jobs a year, the Mining Indaba heard this week.
Creamer: That's right. This is 835 km from Limpopo through Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal. There will be three refuelling stations, initially three hydrogen hubs. What they will do is encourage trucks, buses and various other heavy vehicles to use this route on the way to those destinations. This is a pattern that is developing around the world. We are not the first to start with these corridors. We are not the first to start with the hydrogen valleys, but we all must keep in pace with everybody else, because they haven't really got one going yet. We are in the process of getting this going.
The companies that are playing a leading role are Anglo American, international company ENGIE, and Bambili from South Africa. The generation of jobs is very important, because this whole concept can be replicated. This is just a start. You can do this along every route in South Africa and you can imagine how much that will boost the economy. Also, we have got to get back to the fact that the world is facing a crisis with climate change. We saw what happened in KwaZulu-Natal, we saw the sort of floods that you can get. We are morally bound to actually move in a clean energy direction. The good news is that as we do it in bigger volume, the cost comes down dramatically.
That is being worked on by the Department of Science and Innovation and all these companies collectively. They are hoping to generate about 14 000 jobs a year, minimum initially. The investment into the country from a gross domestic product or GDP point of view is at least R6-billion a year just on that one corridor. Then it can provide taxes of R14-billion rand a year. So very good news and working on it well. Sasol is so far ahead they are producing grey hydrogen and now have to convert that to green hydrogen, which probably puts us in the best position in the world.
Kamwendo: President Ramaphosa this week expressed huge delight on being able to drive in the massive world-first hydrogen dump truck, built from scratch right here in South Africa.
Creamer: It just shows you what South Africans can do. Right here in South Africa is a world first, nobody's got it. This is a huge truck, it is a 300 tonne, eventually 500 tonne because it carries a 200 tonne payload. Just the wheels alone are twice as tall as anybody ever seen. The President of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa, was a passenger in it.
He got so excited that when he got to the Mining Indaba he was full of smiles about this. This is the sort of thing he would like, he said, to do permanently because it was so enjoyable. Also he had a lot of good relationships at the Indaba, with the President of Botswana, the President of Zambia, the Prime Minister of the DRC. They were really locking arms there, which one sensed was very good for Southern Africa.
Kamwendo: The big South Deep gold mine, west of Johannesburg, will be generating its own solar power at a mere 8.5% of what it costs from the Eskom electricity grid.
Creamer: The journalist couldn't believe this 8.5%. They kept on saying, are you sure? That sounds very low, and then they would repeat it, 8.5% is the operating cost, they would repeat. In other words, instead of getting their electricity to run their plant and machines, from the national electricity grid, they have done it themselves, and they can do it at 8.5% of the operating cost.
It doesn’t take into account the capital costs, which they are absorbing, and over the years, they will really do so well with this solar power they will be self-generating. They have gone from the 40 MW that they started with they are now going to 60 MW immediately. They are also looking at producing wind energy and they are very confident that this will go full steam ahead from August.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.