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    Address By The Minister Of Science And Technology, Derek Hanekom, At The Launch Of The Mistra Research Report On Platinum Group Metals

    Date published:30 August  2013
    Article category: Media

    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  Africa's  mineral  endowments  to promote both the hydrogen economy and renewable energy use.


    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  means  our mineral exports inhibited the development of other industries. This hampered the development of a better-rounded employment profile.


    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 is especially 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.  This 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 of life.

    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  DST  formally  launched  the  "National  Hydrogen  and  Fuel  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.pdfMinister Hanekom Speech.pdf


    Click here to download Executive Summary South Africa and the Global Hydrogen Economy The Strategic Role of Platinum Group Metals

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