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 global role that platinum can play in the fight against climate change was highlighted this week.
Creamer: Yes, it was the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) Industry day and there were 300 people there and they all got exposed to the unbelievable role that our PGMs can play in mitigating climate change.
The feeling is that we should have a virtual global roadshow made up of private sector and public sector to communicate to the world how well we can do in this whole area of climate change mitigation. What is being proposed is that we let the world know what a good set of metals we have got and how these can actually be applied.
But, also the world is looking at our metals and saying that these are fairly expensive and we need to be giving them commitments that we encourage a thrifting of these metals. So, you use less of the metals to get the same affect. That means that people do not have to pay as much as they would have to.
Kamwendo: Minister Gwede Mantashe this week praised the South African mining companies that have announced major new capital projects.
Creamer: He was saying that it is very good for us to go ahead with capital projects. Also speaking at the PGMs Industry Day and saying how appreciative he was for companies like Sibanye-Stillwater going ahead with a R6,8-billion platinum group metals project called K4. It is a very promising project and a lot being invested in it already by the previous owners.
Now, Sibanye-Stillwater can take it further and actually reach a situation where it becomes productive. He also complimented African Rainbow Minerals with Two Rivers project, a R5,7-billion that also involves Impala Platinum. Then, Impalal Platinum itself is looking at a total of R10-billion spend on new projects. That includes the Two Rivers, but also a project in Zimbabwe. Along the way there are gold projects and other platinum group metals projects.
The Minister is saying that this is an important investment, because it creates wealth, jobs and foreign exchange for the country. He was saying that he would like to compliment these people who are actually going ahead with investments at a time when they are getting good prices for the platinum group metals.
Kamwendo: Major new opportunities are emerging in South Africa to boost economic growth and to generate new jobs.
Creamer: This also became very clear at this meeting in Johannesburg this week in which we did see that the exploration opportunity for South Africa is huge. We have not had proper exploration for decades, whereas our competitive countries, Canada and Australia are really going ahead. People would want to diversify their exploration.
They would want to come into South Africa to explore, because they know that it is very prospective. They know that they can get the new era metals here, there is new technology they can use. The Minister was saying that he would like to get 3% of the exploration spend, which would be many billions of rands, but also would create many millions of jobs and it is immediate, because the actual exploration begins immediately. The second thing again with an emphasise on hydrogen economy.
This is bursting out left right and centre right across the world from China to Korea to California to England to all over the place, Scotland and Australia. We have been in that for a long time, since 2013 we have been producing green hydrogen with the help from the sun. People are saying that we have got an advantage and we mustn’t fall behind now. We must make sure that we start getting involved in this, in a far quicker way. We tend to be involved, but we tend to then slow up while other people put their foot on the eccelerator and they start overtaking us. There is this great export opportunity that we could have with green hydrogen.
We know that people are looking for this around the world. They are looking for supplies for the future and we could be very much in there just as Australia is at the moment. The way they are talking about this green hydrogen, I think they are really going to be heavily involved. They have even appointed a Minister of hydrogen. It shows you how the rest of the world is catching up and we need to move forward again.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.