Every Friday morning, SAfm’s AMLive’s radio talk-show host 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: A solar-energy first is under way in the Northern Cape, which just happens to be freezing cold as I sit here today, thanks to a Norwegian company’s R1-billion investment.
Creamer: The Northern Cape isn’t normally known for its cold. It’s normally known for its heat and being sun blasted and sun drenched. That is why it is attracting solar investment. We have a solar energy first under way in the Northern Cape at the moment, thanks to a Norwegian company’s R1-billion investment.
Why I say first is because they have invested R1,1-billion in this Linde solar panel project. It is Scatec Solar coming in with 40 MW worth from the Norwegians. It is a first, because it is the first time that we have got these solar panels that are solar tracking. We know of flowers that follow the sun, but now we have got panels that follow the sun to try and absorb maximum energy from that sun.
They actually make sure that they align the panels to the shifting position of the sun. This is coming up from a Norwegian investment Scatec Energy. This is the second project that they have developed in the Northern Cape. The first was at Kalkbult, a 75 MW plant, were they have 312 000 panels. So you can see that the Northern Cape is seen as the place to do solar business even with the solar atlas that is coming up now.
The expectation is that a lot of the recommendations will be to go in to the Northern Cape. There are going to be 12 solar radiation stations set up by the Weather Bureau. Hopefully that will also give some impetus to this plan that they have in the Northern Cape to create a solar corridor from Upington to De Aar, with about 5 000 MW of power.
Kamwendo: Advanced aerospace technology is being used to recover diamonds from an old Northern Cape mine dump.
Creamer: Can you imagine advanced aviation technology coming down into mundane mine dumps in the Northern Cape. This is what is happening, the French company, Dassualt Systemes, has an advanced array of technology normally used in aerospace and defence, but it can be applied in mining.
They want to show that it can do that and the example they gave at this week’s South African Institute of Mining Metallurgy conference in Johannesburg at the University of Witwatersrand School of Mining was the Northern Cape dump, which is diamond-bearing, from the Finsch mine.
They are slicing and dicing that in terms of three-dimensional visualisation and making sure that the maximum recovery can come from diamonds out of these old dumps. We also see at the Finsch mine – of course, they have been leaders in automation underground, now they are doing things on surface, looking at sky high technology that can be offered by Dassualt Systemes – we have also seen them introduce this idea of the automated haulage underground where you have got driverless trucks doing the circuit.
So, things happening in Northern Cape that are attracting high technology in order to extract some wealth out of the dumps and also underground.
Kamwendo: The Northern Cape has been chosen as the place to set a new world land-speed record.
Creamer: The Northern Cape has been chosen rather then the Nevada desert where that record was set in the United States 17 years ago, because the Nevada is no longer flat enough. What you need is length, firmness and flatness.
That is what the Northern Cape offered and because there were some rocks around they had to get 300 people from the Northern Cape to remove 6 000 ton of rock to make way for this plan to break the world land-speed record and get to 1 609 km an hour, which in mileage terms is 1 000 miles an hour.
They are looking to do it at Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape. Another boost for the tourism idea that the province is getting to encourage extreme sports in the Northern Cape.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.