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: At last, a new mining company is reviving gold mining in South Africa’s rich Witwatersrand Gold Basin.
Creamer: This Gold Basin, which has built Johannesburg and has done so much for South Africa, has been neglected, because people have been used to going for 80-million ounces of gold and more in one go. That does not happen elsewhere in the world. If you have got a million ounces of gold, people then list a company and they mine that.
The other day in Nevada in the US, 400 000 ounces led to a $200-million company. We need to do that in South Africa and at last a company has woken up that, Shallow Reefs Gold, an aspirant gold mining company that is now wanting to mine smaller. Even if there is a million plus ounces, they are going for it. They have got five projects and they are going ahead at a time when the gold price is good. They are also going ahead at a time when the situation around really makes gold mining in South Africa the cheapest on the planet, because so many operations have gold plants and there is a surplus of gold-mining infrastructure that’s there to be used.
So, mining companies that are small and coming in now, don’t need to build a gold plant, it don’t need to build tailings dams and those are the massive costs that come into mining. They can then use what is existing and this has become something that the North Americans are now looking at as an investment opportunity second to none. Although this company is a Johannesburg company, it is unable to raise money on the local stock exchange when it comes to equity capital, but it is on the point of getting equity capital form North America and Canada. This just shows you how the rest of the world can recognise good investments, but we are very slow on taking them up.
Kamwendo: South Africa’s on the verge of a nice hydrogen breakthrough, says the new president of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM).
Creamer: Yes, Isabel Geldenhuys, the new president of SAIMM, remarked in an interview this week that South Africa is on the verge of nice hydrogen breakthroughs. This is very important because we know that the world is demanding less carbon emission. With climate change really manifesting itself in the world, we know demand for low-carbon activity is going to accelerate.
She says that when you look at what is happening in Limpopo now with Anglo, when you look at what is available with even grey hydrogen, you can see that the time is right for South Africa to lower carbon emissions and to decarbonise by taking up the hydrogen opportunity.
Kamwendo: The massive South Deep gold mine in Gauteng is at last awaking from its long slumber.
Creamer: Gold is in a good spot. South Deep gold mine in Gauteng, wow, what a mine. This is the third biggest mine from a reserve point of view in the world. It has been slumbering, because it is different. It is not like the normal South African gold mine where you have to really have a low-reef or narrow reef, as they call it, and you go drilling and you crouch down like you are under a table.
This orebody is huge, but because it is so huge, the South Africans have been unable to master how to mine it. Now, suddenly they are doing that and as Gold Fields reported this week, you can see that productivity wise it is doing better and the cash is coming up. People are saying that this mine will probably be the longest and oldest mine we ever have.
t has got another 50-year horizon. It will be great to get this going at optimum efficiency. Great for the Gauteng people and also for the South African economy. We see that this massive South Deep gold mine is coming out of its long slumber and starting to tick all the right boxes.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.