Address By The Minister
Of Science And Technology, Derek Hanekom, At The Launch Of The
Mistra Research Report On
Platinum Group Metals At Gallagher
Estate On 30 August 2013
I am honoured to address this
conference on the "Use
and Displacement of Strategic Minerals". I would like to offer some reflections on key developments in
the area of energy and
minerals. In particular, I wish to discuss what
we are presently doing by way of harnessing South
endowments to promote both the
hydrogen economy and renewable
Three aspects of our current situation are of particular relevance. Firstly,
while South Africa has been richly
bestowed with various minerals, this has historically been a curse – as much as it has been a blessing.
Our traditional minerals-based economy left us with the legacy of the
migrant labour system, widespread
environmental damage, and the
so-called "Dutch disease", which
mineral exports inhibited the development of other industries. This hampered the development of a better-rounded
Our minerals-based economy was
based on cheap labour, leaving us unprepared
to compete in a world economy driven
by innovation, skills and adaptability.
Secondly, we remain highly dependent on imported energy in the form of petroleum.
Energy is the life-blood of an economy,
and energy to drive transport
vital for a country such as ours, where we are spread across vast spaces and
are far from many of our most important trading partners.
Too much of our energy arrives in tankers and is subject to
the vagaries of international
supply and demand pressure, as well as the whims of speculators. In the 1990s, petroleum accounted
for less than 10% of our total
imports, but in recent years
it has been around 15%
or more. Crude
oil is by far our single biggest import,
and dependence on crude
oil imports is therefore a major burden on our balance of trade situation
and is increasing our vulnerability.
Thirdly, although South
Africa has made huge strides in improving access to basic services, we are reaching a threshold where
further improvement is becoming
ever more difficult and costly. Especially challenging, is extending the electricity
transmission grid into sparsely settled
rural areas, where the need is great but the economic returns are often low.
South Africa has thus decided
to strive towards a knowledge-driven economy.
means that innovation will form the
basis of our economy. This change in approach will lead to "decent work" and alleviate the
burden on the environment, while
improving the quality of life
of South Africans from all walks
Please do not mistake
me: we are not forsaking our mineral
resources; instead we are thinking more strategically in
order to extract the greatest possible
value from them.
This is what this conference
is all about. And I believe in this respect we are starting
to do reasonably well. By way
of illustration, may
I draw your attention to some exciting
developments that the Department of Science
and Technology is driving.
In 2008, the
launched the "National Hydrogen
Cell Technologies Research, Development and Innovation Strategy", which – thankfully – has the shorter name "HySA". The HySA Strategy is based on the fact that South Africa possesses 75% of the world's Platinum Group
Metals, known as PGMs.
Download full text in PDF: Minister Hanekom Speech.pdf
Click here to download Executive Summary South Africa and the Global Hydrogen Economy The Strategic Role of Platinum Group Metals