On-The-Air (21/07/2023)

21st July 2023

On-The-Air (21/07/2023)

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: The big Impala Platinum mine this week took steps to generate its own electricity for its mining operations.

Creamer: This is yet another mining company going all out to self-generate its own electricity and also using the sun to do so. Impala Platinum called for engineering companies to come forward to provide 100 MW of solar power. But because Impala Platinum in Rustenburg is a big mine, it will need considerably more than 100 MW.

It will probably need far closer to 290 MW, so they are going to also have off-site energy that they will wheel to the platinum mine, which means that they will also bring in renewable energy from outside the mine area as they decarbonise and go clean with green energy.

Kamwendo: Gold in Gauteng’s old dumps must be recovered to boost the economy, a meeting in the Golden City heard this week.

Creamer: It's incredible. They calculate that there is a trillion rands worth of gold in the old gold mine dumps that extend from the East Rand to the West Rand and present a very valuable opportunity. I repeat a trillion rands worth of gold is there for the taking in these gold mine dumps that we drive past every day. What is convenient is that these old mine dumps – which are equal to six big mines – can be mined relatively quickly, far quicker, for instance, that it would take to build six new mines.

There are at least three mining companies that would be able to move in and turn that mined dump sand into gold. All three are already experienced miners of old mine dumps. They could be encouraged to scale-up rapidly by being given the right of way. I think at this point in time the South African economy needs the boost that gold recovery can provide in our hour of need. They could get going in no time across an expanded front.

When you remove the dumps, you release fantastic land that could be put to constructive use by enabling people to live closer to the city and spend less of their time in taxis to and from work.

Kamwendo: South Africans were this week urged to go all out to promote platinum globally as a climate crisis saviour.

Creamer: The emergence of battery electric vehicles are presenting a bit of a threat to South Africa’s platinum industry, because battery electric vehicles do not use platinum and it is feared that there will be a five-year transitional period where we could experience a decline in demand for our platinum, which would hurt us badly because our platinum mines currently provide 172 000 jobs and if you multiply that by the customary ten to get the full dependency picture, close to two-million people could be negatively impacted.

As South Africa Incorporated, we need to go all out to ensure now that market demand for platinum group metals does not decline. The way to do this is to go into the world and promote fuel cell electric vehicles, which is being done quite well in Germany and China at the moment. But more needs to be done in the US and South Africa needs to make sure that demand for platinum group metals is supported by pressing ahead with Project Rainbow, which will unleash local fuel cell electric vehicle activity and bring about refuelling stations that can provide the fuel cell electric vehicles with green hydrogen fuel.

At a major event in Johannesburg this week, effort was begun to ensure that the fuel cell electric vehicle market is boosted because we dare not lose the market share that our platinum has enjoyed for decades.

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