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 high gold price is a help to the struggling South African economy.
Creamer: When things are down, gold is up. South Africa was the biggest gold producer in the world for many years, but we are now down to number six. We have neglected our position very badly. This is something we should really focus our minds on, because we can build our gold again. We have got all the infrastructure here, we could do much better.
Even now the gold that we are producing is giving us huge value, even though we no longer have the huge volumes of the past. If I look at a country like Japan, you don’t expect the Japanese to actually produce gold. They have seen what the world is like. There are uncertainties in the world and gold is one of your insurances against those uncertainties. Japan has never had any mining laws or exploration since the war. Now, they are inviting people in to explore for gold. Guess who is going in?
Yes, of course, a South African is leading the way, but this time he is in Canadian colours. We need more South Africans doing things here. I can remember 2006 we were sitting with a leading gold producer and he had a house in Springs. He and his wife were sitting with their feet up on the weekend and they saw exploration going on the East Rand. They went and queried and found that there was a potential to build a gold mine there. They did build it.
By 2010 we had Modder East and it was actually getting gold from a reef that had never been mined before. There are so many opportunities around that we are not getting to, because we don’t have the exploration mentality like they have got in Australia, Canada and elsewhere in the world. We have been used to these very big mines, so we think don’t go for the moderately sized mines, but that is where everybody is targeting their effort now in gold.
We have this great gold heritage and we must really take strong steps to sustain that, because there will be more world economic problems in the future and when things go down, gold helps to keep you up.
Kamwendo: A wonderful new proudly South African Covid face mask is attracting world attention.
Creamer: It is amazing that from the lockdown, Hudaco had their machines idled, but the minds of the executives were alert. They thought what could they do? They are sitting there, their workers are not happy with the masks that they were using, they are hurting them, they were creating sweat. Let us sit down, they said, and use our idle injection moulding machines to make new masks.
Because Hudaco, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has got so many engineers, they focused their minds around this during the lockdown and they have come up with the most awesome of proudly South African face masks you have ever seen. Already the Germans want these masks, people around the world want these masks. There have been queries flying in for these masks, because the price of the normal competitive mask of that kind, is high.
This is a mask that is a little bit more elaborate, it is used by mineworkers and in situations where you have foundries and wood chips and dust that has to be kept out. They have created a mask now, where they filter the air coming in magnificently and they filter the air going out as well. So you have got a filtration on both sides, which is very important during this Covid situation, where you prevent exhaling unfiltered air into the other workers around you. You can actually clean up that exhaust air. The filters that they use is so easy to change. This is such a low-cost alternative that they have given that it will probably be half the price of anything else that can compare with it. It is no wonder that the international communities, with our rand price the way it is, are looking at this awesome mask and saying that this is an incredible bargain, because the air coming into it is dirtier then the air that goes out of it.
That is how well they have designed this and it sits so well that people don’t have any skin irritation. The materials they use are food and drug administration approved. FDA of the United States actually approves all this material that they use for these masks. They are not disposable, so you don’t keep throwing masks away all the time. You change the filters and I can see in their factory at Hudaco all the workers are going around wearing these masks. They are very comfortable with it, the way it fits on is exciting, and I see that Hudaco is getting enquiries coming in from all over the place.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.