Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Udo Carelse speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Carelse: The World Coal Association, headed by South Africa’s July Ndlovu, this week expressed its full support for a ‘just energy transition’ to a clean energy future.
Creamer: This is great pragmatism being shown by The World Coal Association who pointed out that they are also sincerely in favour of zero emissions, but that they realize that coal is going to have to play a role for the good of humanity for a period until it can be replaced. What they want to do at that stage is make sure that they produce as clean coal as possible. So, they're taking steps to clean up their coal so that the emissions and carbon emissions from the coal will be reduced, the pollution from the coal will be reduced. In the meantime, they are saying that they have got to continue because people need their lights on people need the electricity. They want to do it in a responsible way, in a sustainable way, in a way that benefits the planet as well.
Carelse: Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says South Africa must continue to phase out coal in a carefully structured manner. What does he mean by that approach?
Creamer: He expressed his viewpoint at the Presidential Climate Commission Conference yesterday. He was looking to the devastating effects of climate change and seeing that really, the people who can least afford it are really the ones that are worst affected by climate change. He is saying that this points to the need for a just transition, that also includes the people that have been hurt by climate change up to now. We think also of KwaZulu-Natal comes to mind immediately with the floods that were really devastating. What he is committing South Africa to is what South Africa has been committed to for a long time and that is using a long and making sure that the 1,5oC level is not exceeded, as was agreed to at the Paris Climate Change and to introduce new forms of energy that are clean and green. So decarbonisation he was promoting yesterday and saying that South Africa is going to go along with this, that have a just transition as people move out of coal. They get moved into different new positions, so that we still have the benefit of the energy replacement, that the people actually are uplifted, at the same time, particularly when we think of Mpumalanga and in other communities that have been building around there and the number of power stations now that they are going to close and the need to repurpose as power stations. We are hearing a lot now about that happening is good effect.
Carelse: South African mining stalwart Dr Mark Bristow is taking steps to develop what will be Pakistan’s biggest-ever mining project.
Creamer: You know we don't think of Pakistan and mining, but these days, of course, the geologists are looking everywhere, because the minerals and metals are still needed, particularly copper. Dr. Mark Bristow, I mean, he's been so successful in South Africa. Now with Barrick Gold, of course, they made sure they got their hands on into lead Barrick Gold, this company that's really doing well listed in New York and Canada. He has been scouring the world. He is one of the great world geological phenomena and here he has found this new, massive plant prospect in Pakistan, of all places, massive copper and massive gold. He is working so well with the government there and the new Prime Minister, it is going to be a 5050 down the middle. This is how he works when he develops in these countries that country benefits to a maximum extent, as well as Barrick Gold. So he is going ahead with something like $7 billion, and the government is also putting in money and the provinces and they feel that it will be a great benefit to the people Pakistan, particularly in the area where this mine will take place, which has been neglected to some extent from an economic viewpoint.
Carelse: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.