Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: South Africa’s high-quality iron-ore has caught the eye of global steelmakers, who are paying top-dollar to get their hands on it.
Creamer: This is fantastic news this week, we have got tremendously high quality iron-ore and manganese, particularly iron-ore, which is being mined by Kumba. This has become sought after, because of climate change, the will to minimise air pollution and for productivity reasons China is willing to pay a premium price to get their hands on our low-alumina iron-ore, which is also lumpy and fetches a very good price premium.
When it comes to the world, it comes to the highest quality and this is really paying dividends in this new world era where we have to make sure that we don't dirty the air and that we have to make sure that we are very productive. We can see the way they are changing their equipment in China, they will almost be on par with Europe and Japan in terms of making sure that the emissions are very low into the atmosphere.
Kamwendo: Platinum has been given a multi-billion-rand boost through a big joint investment by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Anglo Platinum.
Creamer: We haven’t really got a sovereign fund in South Africa. There are other countries that have got a sovereign fund. When we look for sovereign-type funds we look to the PIC. For some time now, Anglo American Platinum has been going at it largely alone to try and stimulate new interest in platinum, with which we also are abundantly endowed. We have got more platinum possibility than anywhere else in the world. This is a very important metal. It needs to have more uses, because you can see the price is down because of anti-diesel sentiment in Europe.
Coming forward now with R2,6-billion, R1,3-billion each, is the PIC and Anglo American Platinum to make sure that they can find and discover new industrial uses for platinum. We see those uses popping up in durable electronics. We know that we all want flat screen TVs and, of course, platinum helps to do that at a high quality. They are now even talking about using it for water purification. More and more uses popping up for platinum and at least now they are getting some backing to fund that so that the world can start using more platinum
Kamwendo: New mining technology is coming together to make mining safer, more community friendly and highly productive.
Creamer: We heard from Anglo American this week that what has been a laboratory is now coming into the field and they are starting to look at all sorts of ways of making sure that mining becomes safer and more productive. All these things go together. It also becomes more environmentally friendly. We saw at the same time the CSIR this week launched a whole lot of new products to try make sure that people are not killed in the deep mines underground to detect when there are problems with possible rock falls using machines and not people, so the people don’t suffer the consequences of any rock fall.
We see the mines are going into areas now and Anglo American spelt out when they are going into Peru, before they do anything they go talk to the community for months on end. They came up with an agreement with the community, 26 different points, so that they will use technology to be virtually waterless. The water that they do use will be water that the community does not want to use, because it is contaminated. Any fresh water that they come up with they will share with the community.
This is a whole new approach of using technology to make sure that you are more productive, but also that you can work better within the community and you can be much safer.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.