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‘MY PRECIOUS’ CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

‘MY PRECIOUS’ CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

FROM THE EDITOR ‘MY PRECIOUS’ CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination and a hardtofind alloy called guts. This quote from American freestyle wrestler Dan Gable, born on 25 October 1948 in Iowa, United States, also sums up the associated challenge in the production of precious metals a focus feature of the latest edition of SA Mining. Of the precious metals, the platinum group metals PGM sector currently finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Peter Major, the other American golden spirit, born in Idaho, states in his column that too much platinum is being produced for a market that just is not growing.

“Analysts are usually split when it comes to determining whether the problem is overproduction or weak demand,” he says. Against the expectations of flat to slow growth, Major contends that “the best cure for low prices, is low prices” pg 48. Commodity research house Afriforesight also offers insight into the trends influencing the PGM sector, in particular the factors associated with the automotive sector, which, as the largest consumer of platinum, has the most significant impact on the PGM demand and supply scenario. The automotive sector is innovating at a rapid pace. Apart from flying cars, the first of which is expected for commercial supply from Dutch company PALV by as early as 2019 pending full certification, competition for allelectric vehicles continues to grow in leaps and bounds. In fact, rapper Ka nye West recently praised Tesla for his electric car calling it the “funnest car” he’s ever driven.

Tesla’s electric racing car is set to have its own motor racing series. This is following approval for circuit races from the Federation Internationale de [‘Automobile, motor sport’s governing body, for the Tesla Model S PlOOD. The race, which will see 20 international drivers racing for 10 professional teams, will be a boon to motorsport enthusiasts. This is all good and well, but how will it impact on the already struggling platinum sector which is largely reliant on the automotive sector for survival? Surely it will injure an already bleeding industry platinum producers are currently crying “crisis mode” Recently appointed minister of minerals Gwede Mantashe disagrees that the platinum sector is in crisis, and states that instead of lamenting its challenging state, the sector should rather focus on strengthening relationships with employees who will play a key role in finding solutions to its challenges. Given the trials and tribulations faced by the PGM sector, the question to ask is: Are there measures in place to drive demand? According to the World Platinum Investment Council WPIC, a number of new initiatives are under way, including the aggressive pursuit of China, the world’s biggest platinum consumer at around 30% of production, as an investment target. Furthermore, platinum majorAnglo American Platinum continues to evaluate new opportunities and most recently invested in High yield Energy Technologies, aimed at supporting the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles. Subdued platinum demand has, however, not deterred platinum explorer Ivanhoe Mines, which recently announced that its Platreef Shaft 1 had reached a milestone depth of 750m from powering ahead towards ore processing in early 2022.

The junior mining sector, too, is facing significant adversity in its path to success; key among its issues are financial limitations, junior miners tell SA Mining pg 14. Given that junior miners are often sidelined, they recently took up the gauntlet to have their voices heard. In earlyApril, the Chamber of Mines’ junior mining members met to draft their “own position” on the Mining Charter given that the “onesizefitsall” approach was unworkable. “These discussions are at an early stage but it is clear that the junior mining sector feels strongly that they need greater representation at policy level,” explains CoM’s Grant Mitchell pg 18.

Despite the hurdle of challenges, junior miners such as Renergen, an alternative energy company, continue to progress their projects. Renergen is aspiring to become a significant helium producer in the long term. It is looking to change South Africa’s status as a net helium importer when it starts production in 2019, ramping up production to around 1.5 tonnes within five years. South Africa currently imports 300kg of helium per day pg 20. Like Renergen, which is looking to enter uncharted territory, our cover story, the Moti Group, has a multipronged strategy for expanding its footprint in neighbouring Zimbabwe. According to the chrome producer, chrome is the backbone of infrastructure development and its value lies in building nations and countries. It is as precious as precious metals pg 10. • Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination and a hardtofind alloy called guts., Gable

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