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Exploring Africa’s PGM potential

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Exploring Africa’s PGM potential
Anglo American’s Mogalakwena mine on the northern limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex is the largest open-pit platinum mine in the world. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Exploring Africa’s PGM potential

According to market analysts the global market for PGMs will record a 4.47% increase between now and 2029.

Market growth in the platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium (PGM) market will come from growing demand for PGMs in green technologies, including hydrogen energy technologies.

According to Mordor Intelligence, this demand will in turn generate great opportunities across Africa’s mining and hydrogen value chains.

Africa holds more than 90% of the global platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium (PGM) reserves. Most of these reserves are found in Southern Africa, more specifically in the Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC) of South Africa and on the Great Dyke of Zimbabwe.

During the 2024 WhyAfrica Road Trip we will traverse the northern limb of the BIC in South Africa and the full length of the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe to look at its geology, its historic significance and to determine what these great occurrences have meant for these regions in the past, and what they would mean in the future.

Exploring Africa’s PGM potential
If you want to be part of the WhyAfrica story e-mail leon@whyafrica.co.za

The BIC and Great Dyke (Exploring Africa’s PGM potential)

The Great Dyke of Zimbabwe is a layered mafic intrusion of igneous, metal-bearing rock that has been dated to approximately 2.5 billion years old. In cross section, the Great Dyke looks somewhat triangular or keel-shaped, suggesting to geologists that it rose along deep faults associated with extension of the African crust. This geological feature extends more than 550km northeast to southwest across the centre of Zimbabwe, varying from 3 to 12km in width (source: NASA Earth observatory)

The BIC is the largest layered igneous intrusion within the Earth’s crust. It has been tilted and eroded forming the outcrops around what appears to be the edge of a great geological basin: the Transvaal Basin.

It is approximately two billion years old and is divided into four limbs: northern, eastern, southern and western. It comprises the Rustenburg Layered suite, the Lebowa Granites and the Rooiberg Felsics, that are overlain by the Karoo sediments (source: Wikimedia)

Africa’s green hydrogen potential (Exploring Africa’s PGM potential)

The African continent holds substantial potential for green hydrogen production given its abundance of co-located renewable resources.

According to the European Investment Bank, Africa has the potential to produce 50 million tons of green hydrogen per annum by 2035, which could help meet power, transportation and industrial energy needs, decarbonise heavy-polluting industries, as well as be used for global export.

Namibia represents a pioneer of green hydrogen on the continent, having secured billions in investment for green hydrogen projects from various investors, including the USAID, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Japanese investment firm ITOCHU.

Green energy firm Hyphen Hydrogen Energy is implementing a USD10-billion project, with the capacity to produce 350,000 metric tons per year using 7 GW of renewable energy and 3 GW of hydrogen electrolyzers.

Last May, Belgian port operator Antwerp Bruges partnered with the Namibian Ports Authority to develop a EUR 250-million hydrogen and ammonia storage facility at Walvis Bay Port to facilitate the transport of hydrogen to regional and global markets.

Exploring Africa’s PGM potential
Siyathembana is a bronze sponsor of the 2024 WhyAfrica Road Trip

Green corridor for Namibia and South Africa (Exploring Africa’s PGM potential)

Realising the potential of green hydrogen to drive regional energy security, South African tourism, trade and investment agency Wesgro signed an agreement last month with the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, Namibia’s Environmental Investment Fund and infrastructure company Gasunie and Climate Fund Managers.

The agreement paves the way for the parties to assess the feasibility of developing a green hydrogen corridor connecting the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa with Lüderitz in Namibia.

Furthermore, green energy companies Hive Energy UK and Genesis Eco-Energy are developing a R105 billion green hydrogen and ammonia project in the Coega Special Economic Zone in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

The project will add 14,400 MW of electricity to the grid and produce 900,000 tons of green ammonia for export to global markets, increasing the country’s export revenue.

South Africa has also established a USD1-billion fund in partnership with the Netherlands, aimed at accelerating the deployment of green hydrogen projects to feed growing demand in Europe.

Synergies between PGMs and green hydrogen (Exploring Africa’s PGM potential)

Private and public sector entities are demonstrating the potential for synergy between PGMs and green hydrogen, specifically in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Last October, mining firm Anglo American entered into a partnership with automotive firm BMW South Africa and international energy firm Sasol to develop South Africa’s PGMs and green hydrogen value chains.

Anglo American will provide PGMs used in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, while Sasol will provide the green hydrogen and BMW the vehicles.

As global demand for green hydrogen rises due to carbon emission reduction policies and growing energy needs, a parallel surge in PGMs demand is also anticipated.

The Critical Minerals Africa (CMA) Summit, taking place on November 6-7 in Cape Town, will unpack the nexus between PGMs and green hydrogen and their evolving role within the African and global energy transition. The continent is home to the world’s largest PGM reserves, with South Africa alone possessing over 80% of global resources and Zimbabwe also holding substantial reserves. These metals play a vital role in fuel cell technology, enabling the production of electricity from hydrogen and oxygen. As African countries – including Namibia, South Africa, Mauritania and Egypt – intensify their green hydrogen activities, long-term PGM demand is expected to grow substantially, powering a wide range of applications from hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to stationary power generation to industrial processes.

Exploring Africa’s PGM potential

Exploring Africa’s PGM potential
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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management