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 platinum group metals are being used in an ever increasing number of applications.
Creamer: It’s just incredible how platinum, our beloved national patrimony, is just going into every nook and cranny. The latest we hear is that it is going into food technology, because there is so much food waste throughout the developed world that they now need a technology that goes into your fridge that is platinum catalysed and that can keep food fresh for much longer. That is another incredible step that we haven’t ever thought of before.
Then, in computing, the new computer chip 3.0, this very new computer technology that is coming out, this is going to be an avant-garde effort that has low electricity use. Again, it’s the platinum group metals that are going in there to ensure the low power intensity. We have got aerospace advancing like never before, with people going to the moon now and mars, they are looking at high speed activities and again along comes platinum group metals, our platinum group metals.
We produce the most platinum group metals in the world to help this. That is on top of the hydrogen economy that is just spreading throughout the world at lightning speed. Hydrogen is at the centre of climate change and at the centre of hydrogen are platinum group metals. So, you have a company like AP Ventures, where AP stands for Anglo Platinum. They are spreading to the world now. They have just done a deal today with Norway, because Norway is big in hydrogen and everything that AP Ventures goes into has a background of platinum group metals.
More big news is that the drive trains, the three technologies that drive our cars, namely the internal combustion engine or a fuel cell electric vehicle or a battery electric vehicle. We hear a lot about Tesla and battery electric vehicle. Hydrogen plays the role in the fuel cell, where the platinum group metals are. In the internal combustion engine, the platinum group metals ensure that the world’s air remains clean and it stops the cars’ exhausts from polluting the big cities.
Now, big news is that platinum group metals may also go into the battery electric vehicles, to make the battery much lighter. That is just incredible. That means in all three of the world’s drive trains, platinum group metals will play climate-positive roles.
Kamwendo: The multiplier magic of exploration and mining can bring the biggest number of jobs to South Africa.
Creamer: This was really pointed out by investment company, Integral Asset Management. Bruce Williamson, the chief investment officer there, said that nothing in the world can promote jobs more than mining, preceded by exploration.
Mining, preceded by exploration, is the greatest economic multiplier in all business activity, including government expenditure. There is nothing that can match it. What happens when you enable people to take ore out of the ground and you get a mine built, you then not only need that mine plant to be equipped and daily consumables to come there, but it supports every industry. It supports heavy industry, light industry and the chemicals industry in particular, which feeds into the metallurgical plants.
Then these companies also require auditors and the companies that they serve require accountants, lawyers, insurance, tax advisers, banks and stock exchanges. Then the towns that develop around the mines need food, housing, schools, healthcare, retail and just everything that goes into life and living. It’s not just by luck that South Africa has a world-class financial system. That was developed through mining.
The water we drink here from Rand Water comes up against gravity and has been doing so since 1903, because of mining. This is what they are saying, promote exploration to get mining and then you get the jobs, spread across the widest of spectrums.
Kamwendo: The eThekwini municipality is embarking on a new journey of developing the hydrogen economy.
Creamer: This is fantastic from eThekwini. They have been looking at generating their own power, they want renewable power.
They actually got permission from government to move ahead with the programme of independent power production and an integrated power plan. That will involve them getting an independent power producer to generate electricity for the city. That could be sun power or wind power. What they are also thinking of now is, along with renewable energy generation, also developing a hydrogen export base, because the world demand for green hydrogen is set to grow like Topsy.
They are right at the port, so if they can have a very good renewable energy system, they can also have hydrogen. They are looking at having 40% of their own renewable power by 2030 and 100% by 2050, making the city carbon neutral, and they are considering also combining that with being an exporter of green hydrogen, which the world is demanding as a means of mitigating climate change.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.