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Partnering to support host communities

Beneficiation – PGMs

We add value, develop our markets and create jobs

We invest in a portfolio of activities to sustain and increase long-term global demand for PGMs, partnering directly with research institutions as well as customers in the industrial, jewellery and investment sectors. We engage in laboratory-scale research, product development and commercialisation to ensure the continued relevance of PGMs. In this way, we secure thousands of direct and indirect jobs created by the platinum industry.

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In addition to stimulating global demand, we invest in developing the skills and intellectual property needed to facilitate beneficiation in South Africa. Our beneficiation activities form a core part of our business strategy and market development goals, and we are proud to invest in a number of South African projects.

Our objectives are supportive of and aligned with the South African government’s National Development Plan (NDP).


Supporting PGM research programmes at South African universities

We recognise that the development of new PGM products and applications can be promoted by strengthening research capacity and building skills in the fields of science and engineering. This, in turn, will help grow manufacturing and beneficiation in South Africa.

We are currently supporting a research programme at the South African Medical Research Council which is focused on new drug discovery and development for diseases that are prevalent in South Africa and developing new and improved medical devices that use PGMs.

Developing the South African platinum jewellery market

We invest in building the design and manufacturing capability of our South African platinum jewellers by sponsoring training institutions that provide instruction in platinum jewellery design and manufacturing. We also support local jewellery manufacturers through a metal consignment scheme that permits extended payment terms.

PlatAfrica – Celebrating the best of South African platinum design

Over the last 16 years, we have run an annual PlatAfrica design and manufacture competition, typically attracting over 100 entries from professionals, apprentices and students. The annual competition – and its related media campaign – raises consumer and retail awareness of platinum jewellery in South Africa, and also forms part of the student curriculum at local training institutions, supporting beneficiation in South Africa.

Developing the fuel cell market

We continue to focus on proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells as an emerging technology and a new end market for our PGM products.

Fuel cells use platinum as a catalyst to produce ‘clean’ energy, both for stationary and mobile uses on both a small and large scale. Stationary uses include homes and offices, while mobile uses include public transport, such as trains and buses. Fuel cells do not emit noxious gases, and could reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

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Fuel cell rural electrification

Together with our partner Ballard Power Systems, we are developing stationary fuel cell technology that will bring quality primary electricity to over 3 million South African homes currently without access to electricity. A field trial of a commercial, stationary fuel cell power generator is currently underway in the Free State Province, a world-first demonstration of a fuel cell mini-grid application for off-grid rural electrification. Read more.


World's first fuel cell mini-grid electrification field trial launched

In August 2014, we launched the world’s first fuel cell mini-grid electrification field trial at Naledi Trust Community, in Kroonstad (part of the Moqhaka Local Municipality in the southern part of the Fezile Dabi district of South Africa’s Free State Province). The 34 household community is been powered using a platinum-based fuel cell product developed for use in off-grid residential application and is fuelled with methanol. The system is being trialled as a provider of electricity to remote communities where the cost of electrification by extending the national grid may be cost or technically prohibitive.

The project is being undertaken with Ballard Power Systems, in partnership with South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, and South Africa’s Department of Energy. Platinum-based fuel cells provide significant economic and social development opportunities for South Africa and elsewhere in Africa as they provide clean, reliable and cost-effective power.

This 12-month field trial will provide valuable insight into the market requirements of off-grid communities. When commercialised, these fuel cells for mini-grid electrification will provide the opportunity to create jobs in South Africa in designing fit-for-purpose power systems, manufacturing and assembly, installation, operation, maintenance and fuel supply jobs.

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Fuel cell mining locomotives

With our partners, we are also developing and testing fuel cell powered mining equipment for our South African mining operations, including an underground locomotive and dozer. We are also investigating the merits of replacing lead-acid batteries and diesel generators with highly efficient, low-emission, quiet fuel cells.

Our fuel cell technology could be commercialised in South Africa, which would enable local manufacturing and create jobs and a new skills base.

Real Mining. Real People. Real Difference.