On-The-Air (06/08/2021)

6th August 2021 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

On-The-Air (06/08/2021)

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: An atlas of Southern Africa’s renewable energy hot spots will be available by the end of this year.

Creamer: This has been brought about by funding from the German government. The German government has been doing a calculation of how much green hydrogen it will need. The calculation shows that it is going to be in excess of what the Germans can actually supply for themselves. So what they have done is they have funded a special study, which involves 12 SADC countries in the Southern African region.

They had a workshop this week to validate some initial studies and then by the end of the year they will be reporting on where the energy hot spots are in South Africa. These hot spots will be sun energy hot spots, wind energy will be included and water energy. The idea is that we make our own area green, the Southern Africa area becomes green using renewable energy, but that we will also have an opportunity to export green hydrogen and we know that Namibia is well positioned for this. They have got a lot of space to put solar panels, they have got a lot of sun and they have also got a lot of wind energy.

They intend to use the Walvis Bay port where they will use sea water to create green hydrogen and then they will export that via Walvis Bay to Rotterdam in the Netherlands for then piping on to Germany. We have also got an opportunity with our Northern Cape to use the Coega Port and also to create the green hydrogen from sea water and possibly also export to Rotterdam. The Japanese have already asked for prices, so we might be looking to the east to actually support green hydrogen.

Kamwendo: Botswana this week showed that it is far ahead of South Africa on the exploration front

Creamer: This exploration cadastre story, that is a system that you have that people can just look on their computers and they can understand where all the potential is in your country for mining and exploration. Now, we have fallen very far behind. Botswana for decades now has been encouraging investment into the country and they have had a cadastre system.

Now, they have employed a company, which is a South African company to actually uplift that and fully digitise it, so that it will probably be one of the best in the world. At this stage we are still inviting tenders for our cadastre system. We try to develop our own cadastre system many years ago and it got terribly negative response. So, the point now is that they want to do a new cadastre system so they have invited in tenders, but one hopes that we don’t try reinvent the wheel again like we did the last time with a huge failure and lack of investment in exploration.

This time round we actually get our cadastre right, but by the time we do it, Botswana will probably be way ahead.  The new digitisation will be completed in the next 12-months. Even Namibia is attracting more foreign investment in terms of exploration then we are, so we have fallen behind and need to play catch up very fast.

Kamwendo: South Africa’s mining upturn, which is providing a strong economic underpin, is expected to endure.

Creamer: Every executive who reports mining company results these days gets complimented by the analysts for fantastic results, and the analysts ask, is this the peak now, or can we expect things to go down after this?”. Invariably the response of the mining executives is that “you haven’t seen the best yet, the best has still to come”.

So, the world is entering a very different new era. It is a green revolution. The metals and minerals that they acquire are going to have to come in bigger and bigger quantities to actually satisfy the market to such a point where you see big companies Anglo American indicating that they will probably continue to do well and do better in the future. We heard the same this morning from Glencore. They feel that better is to come.

In South Africa we have had Steve Phiri, the CEO of Royal Bafokeng Platinum, project his ideas that he senses that this is going to go on for years and that there will be up and down with prices, but it won’t go into a down cycle, it will be in an up cycle. This is wonderful news for the South African economy and also for our fiscus which is receiving a lot of tax support from the mining industry.

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