On-The-Air (01/12/2023)

1st December 2023

On-The-Air (01/12/2023)

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: A huge opportunity is arising for South Africa to add value to the high-quality manganese that it mines.

Creamer: South Africa has got high quality manganese and we have been mining it for decades, but now there is a far-reaching opportunity to add value to the manganese we mine because electric vehicles, which are sweeping the world, want the manganese in their batteries for cost reasons for effective generation of electricity. They are adding value to manganese, so that this can go into the batteries.

This week Jupiter Mines, which is listed in Australia, but which has a manganese asset in South Africa, which is controlled by South Africans, have done tests to show that they can make the very high purity manganese that is required. Over and above that, South Africa has got MMC in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, which is already making pure manganese and exporting it to Japan, US and to Europe. MMC is also swinging into producing high purity manganese sulphate monohydrate, which is going to be in big demand. The sky would be the limit for these companies, because the demand of this material for battery electric vehicles is going to be so great and the value that they will get will be so huge.

Kamwendo: Copper mining in the Northern Cape is soaring to great heights with the help of small new mining companies.

Creamer: You get small mining companies that actually work a lot faster than big mining companies. We saw Copper 360 list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in April and they haven't stopped advancing ever since. Now, the latest thing is that they have doubled their capacity outlook to 8 000 tons of copper a year, just with a click of a finger, when they took over Nama Copper, which has a copper concentrator plant next door to them in Nababeep, in the Northern Cape.

This concentration plant no longer has a supply of the slag material that it needs. As a result, Copper 360 is now going to move far further forward, far faster in Northern Cape, which is going to be a big copper area.

Kamwendo: The recovery of platinum group metals from waste dumps is coming into sharp new focus.

Creamer: It is wonderful that South Africa has got a rich history of getting gold out of mine dumps and, because DRDGold has been such a master at recovering gold in this way so successfully, they were called to Zurich this week where they presented to the Swiss Mining Institute.

They are now seen as a company that is advancing from extracting only gold from the dumps to one that will also be assigned to extracting green metals and platinum group metals out of dumps in the same way. So, our marvellous history of gold recovery is giving birth to a new era for DRDGold, in which they will also extract platinum group metals and green metals from the tailings dams the world over.

Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.