Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: ‘Platinum Valley’, South Africa’s Silicon Valley, will be up and running in the next three months, the Minister of Trade and Industry has promised.
Creamer: Yes, what was wonderful about the SONA debate in Parliament after the State of the Nation address, was that there were timeframes given, so you have got to understand when these dreams are going to come true. One of these was Platinum Valley. Now, we have been waiting for this since 2014, because it is seen as a place where you can develop using platinum, which we host in such vast quantities.
It also seen as a place where the fuel cell will probably have a manifestation in South Africa either as a total product or with components. At last, he said that in 30 days the legal entity for all this will be ready. We know that the investment pipeline is already in place. That gives us quite a lot of encouragement that some action will be taken to advance the market for demand for platinum, which we produce in such vast quantities.
Kamwendo: A promising platinum mine is being taken out of mothballs in the North West.
Creamer: It is encouraging that new mining projects are emerging from their starting blocks often from mothballed operations. There is so much of this around in South Africa, where parts of mines were mothballed and then people are doing new studies on them. We see this was done by Northam in the North West where they are moving ahead with Eland Mine, which has been on care and maintenance and which they bought from Glencore.
It is now looking good, because when you take the basket price of platinum metals, not just platinum on its own, but the palladium and the rhodium and in this case gold as well, all those metal prices are on the ascendancy. So you actually get a combined price which is very good and that is why people are deciding to go ahead and demothball some of these places so that they can start production again. This will create jobs for some 2 800 people.
Kamwendo: A reviving copper and zinc mine is preparing to shoot out of its starting blocks in the Northern Cape.
Creamer: Again, we see that the Australians are far more wide awake then we South Africans. We know we have had Prieska copper, we know the name is there and there is such huge demand for copper. Why haven’t South African’s got around to doing this. We find that the person who is a South African, living in Australia, has now come back to the country with his family, they have done a fantastic feasibility study on these old copper and zinc assets and they got a massive thumbs up with their feasibility study.
They will have a return of about 44% operationally. They will have payback on reviving this mine and doing exploration in less than three years. We can see that a lot of these metals at the moment are in demand in the new world of mitigating climate change. We see copper very much in the picture. They are saying that they have absolutely no problem in selling their copper and it will revive this place in the Northern Cape where people are seeing more and more opportunity.
Every geologist that goes in there is saying that there is so much that can be done. We see manganese coming into that green space and a lot of the metals and minerals that we have in the ground here lying dormant reviving. We even saw a gold mine that had been closed now for the last three years start producing in the next three months, because people see that there are new ways of doing things. They can cut the costs with a lot of the innovative ways that people are moving forward. That is why Blyvoor Gold will also be producing in the fourth quarter of this year.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.