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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 business of recycling critical metals is taking the world by storm.
Creamer: The biggest companies in the world are going for recycling in a big way, not because they want to, but because they have to. For instance, mining companies, in terms of Scope Three obligations, if they supply all ore someone that is made into a product, they are partly responsible for those emissions, and to reduce the emissions, they want to engage in recycling. We see that Glencore is turning this into a massive business, because the business opportunity is colossal. Just about every second month, Glencore is announcing another big deal. Last month, they had a big thing for lithium recycling, because lithium is in such short supply and it is going all out to recycle that lithium. Last month the made big announcements in Spain and Portugal with partners from those countries. Then his month, another huge announcement for Italy with an American partner. I'm sure it is going to go on and on, because this is what the new world of circularity is about. You can't just produce something and then leave it. From the cradle to the grave, they want you to be active in recollecting it. Then they want you to also resurrect it, they want you to bring it back so that it can have a rebirth and be used again, This will cut down on mining, of course, and that is what they want. Because in cutting down on mining you are cutting down on the emissions, and you are helping to protect Mother Earth. It is such a massive big picture emerging, and it has huge opportunities. The biggest of the big like Glencore, which is listed in Johannesburg and London, have spotted it early, and they are just doing deal after deal to recycle and resell.
Kamwendo: More and more mining companies are taking urgent steps to rapidly generate their own electricity.
Creamer: It is just incredible how fast mining companies are taking steps to generate their own electricity. You have got to watch the figures by the day. They first told us that the private sector was doing 9 000 megawatts. Then they said the private sector was going to do 10 000 megawatts. These people go to Nersa behind the scenes you don't see what's happening. The latest thing is 13 000 megawatts and I think it is going to still grow like crazy. We have seen the gold mining companies get out of their starting blocks fast. If there hadn't been a cap, they would be even far further ahead. On the Far West Rand, you see Gold Fields already producing 50 megawatts. On the Far East Rand, you see the Pan African has been doing 10 megawatts for ages. They would both have done much more and they are going to do much more. Then next month, you will see Harmony Gold produce 30 megawatts in the Free State. They have also got plans for much bigger situations. The platinum mines are starting to come through. There are going to be 100 megawatts before the end of the year from Anglo American Platinum. Then you have got Sibanye-Stillwater saying this week, it is moving rapidly, with its foot flat on the accelerator. They are looking at 550 megawatts. Then you have got other companies like Impala Platinum with 10 megawatts and much more to come. Northam Platinum with 11 megawatts and much more to come. All of them not only looking at solar, but also at wind energy, and wind seems to be viable in many places.
Kamwendo: Something simply has to be done by South Africans to make investing in exploration attractive in our country.
Creamer: Absolutely. When it comes to mining, you either explore or you die. We had a history of mining here with the private sector controlling the exploration. So people would invest in companies on the stock exchange, and they wouldn't even discuss exploration, because the job of the mining companies while mining was to make sure that for every ounce you take out the ground, they put another one back in. So, the private sector had a history of exploring all the time. Come 1994, the State became the custodian of all the minerals and metals in the ground and they then took charge of issuing the exploration licences, and since then, it just gone absolutely downhill. People find it a battle to get exploration licences in South Africa and they go off to other countries. Common today is mining companies choosing to go to countries such as the United States of America. Today, we just saw AngloGold Ashanti announce today they are going to lower their listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to a secondary listing, and elevate their listing on the New York Stock Exchange to be a primary listing. Johannesburg will thereby lose its once sky-high mining status and guess what, the new domicile of will be London because they haven't got a longevity here. They have gone into other places, where if you go to America now, they make sure you can get your licences and they are doing big things in Nevada. So, we need to do something in South Africa fast, to make sure that the mining industry doesn't shrink to nothing owing to the absence of exploration.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News & Mining Weekly.