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On-The-Air (13/10/2023)

Martin Creamer discusses green hydrogen, mining education and recycling of metals and minerals.

13th October 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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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 major steps being taken to introduce green hydrogen globally is good news for South Africa

Creamer: Just this week, we saw the Americans, the Australians, the South Koreans, the Europeans move strongly into green hydrogen. That is music to the ears of South Africa, because when you hear green hydrogen, you know that this is platinum based. American and Australian companies even stated in their announcements that they were going to use PEM technology. PEM technology is great for us, because it uses platinum group metals.

At the moment platinum group metals are not being used as much as they used to, because battery electric vehicles are not using platinum, and it has been affecting the price. We need a replacement for that and with these big steps being taken now, the hope is that the demand for platinum will lift strongly and also enable the companies using it to have energy sovereignty. South Africa is also moving towards green hydrogen and its use in making green steel. We saw steelmaking company ArcelorMittal this week taking steps to use green hydrogen to produce green steel in Saldanha Bay, which will be an important sales mechanism because the world is wanting clean steel.

Kamwendo: South Africa’s new School of Mining in the Northern Cape is attracting international attention.

Creamer: Now this is incredible. We saw attention coming in and requests for partnerships from major international companies. We saw the Camborne school of mines of the UK chatting to our school in the Northern Cape. Polish schools were coming through wanting partnerships. African schools, too, and big major companies wanting to get involved. Although Copper 360 is still a relatively small company in the Northern Cape, it has seen the need for skills development in mining, because the Northern Cape province is very prospective.

We see the mining there growing there very strongly now, and it is expected to grow at an even greater pace in the future. People realising that they are going to need a far bigger skills resource. We can see the demand for education coming through from the local community as well, with 200 CVs being received from people wanting to be trained. The education process involves theory and practical. As students come out of the school, they see what they have learnt being put into practice at the mine in front of them and the theory-practical mix is a big help in getting skillsets developed.

Kamwendo: Recycling metals and minerals is on the way to becoming a profitable new business opportunity the world over.

Creamer: We are used to primary mining supply metals and minerals from a mine going into a system, but these days, with the change in the in the world and the need to mitigate against climate change, regulators want you to recycle those metals. Mines are now having to take steps into that circular economy. It is going to be a different type of business for mines. They are used to digging holes, pulling the metal out and pushing it through the system.

Now, they have got to become involved in also recovering critical metals and minerals and becoming scrap dealers. This is what you hear them talking about every day now, because the price that the market is prepared to pay for a recycled material is going to probably exceed what is paid for mined material. This is because buyers of metals and minerals are in a new era of being encouraging to engage in responsible consumption, so all the mines are looking to become recyclers as well as being primary producers by way of mining.

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

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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