MINERAL Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said yesterday that the new global dispensation of green energy offered South Africa a rare opportunity to become a global leader in green hydrogen.
South Africa must maintain the leading spot ahead of other countries in order for it to dictate the terms of development, he said.
He was speaking at the Platinum Group Metals (PGM) industry day held in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, where industry players met to discuss issues around the sector. Mantashe delivered a keynote address at the event.
This as the world and mining firms scramble to decarbonise their footprints as climate change poses a serious risk to the global economy.
Mantashe said he was grateful that mining firm Anglo American had taken the initiative recently to experiment with green hydrogen to fuel a truck.
“We hope that (the experiment) will translate into volumes that would change lives,” he said.
During his speech, Mantashe said South Africa held 80 percent of the world’s platinum, was the leading global supplier of mine PGMs and accounted for between 80 and 40 percent of the world’s platinum and palladium supplies, respectively.
“Let’s exploit the side where we are strong and compete where we are competitive. In my view, PGMs are the future. That is where the future of mining is going to be,” he said.
Another speaker at the event was Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBplat) chief executive Steve Phiri who showed support for the offer by Impala Platinum (Implats) to gain complete control of the mid-tier miner. Implats is hoping to secure at least 51 percent of RBPlat, but is in a bidding war against Northam Platinum.
RBPlat last month advised its shareholders to accept a mandatory more than R40 billion offer from Implats after Implats announced in December that it had already acquired 35.2 percent of RBPlat.
Last week, Implats increased its holding to 37.62 percent after acquiring a further 1 million shares of the smaller platinum group metals producer.
Meanwhile, during the question and answer session, Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines chief executive, Neal Froneman, said the company would not change its wage offer as the world faces a potential economic downturn.
It’s been a month since the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) have been on strike at Sibanye’s gold mines in the Free State and Gauteng.
“The world is likely going into an economic recession in the next short while and we can’t let buoyant commodity prices confuse us in terms of wages and salary service,” he said.
The unions demand a R1 000 increase in each year of a three-year agreement for category 4 to 8 workers, Sibanye has offered a R700 increase each year.
Froneman said the miner would not offer an increase above inflation.
“The industry as a whole has made major catch-ups over the last few decades of wages and in our view, the wage profile is fair. So if you want to create a cost squeeze then certainly agree to about inflation wage increases,” he said.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE