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In South Africa, a feasibility study of fuel cells has been implemented, which if successful could be in production within two years, according to Isondo Precious Metals.

The study will be financed by the Department of Trade and Industry and IPM, a company established to grow the South African platinum and metals industry, will be heading up the study.

Driving industry growth

According to trade and industry minister, Dr Rob Davies, the study would identify specific components that could be manufactured and assembled in the country, Mining Weekly reported.

This would help grow the local manufacturing industry and drive job creation.

Davies told media during a briefing in Cape Town this week: “South Africa produces around 80% of the world’s platinum. We need to increase the demand for platinum and capture some of the manufacturing that takes place in this frontier industry.”

Fuel cell feasibility

IPM CEO Vinay Somera highlighted that a key objective would be to manufacture the cells at an affordable price with the aim of the design to achieve a bankable feasibility study for fuel cell components, Mining Weekly reported.

According to media, IPM will collaborate with national telecommunications service providers Cell C, Vodacom and MTN, as well as establish a site at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, where a fuel cell will be installed in the diabetic clinic.

There are plans to work with the automotive and education sectors as well.

Davies said the special economic zone (SEZ) that is expected to be set up in Rustenburg, predicted significant developments in the incentives it provided its enterprises. This includes a corporate tax rate of 15% as opposed to the current 28%, Mining Weekly reported.

There would also be additional tax breaks for greenfield and brownfield investments, with duty-free and value-added tax-free entry of qualified imports in custom controlled areas.

Davies stated: “We think we have in our toolbox some pretty attractive and significant incentives to support the emergence of this industry. We see small power stations and small underground vehicles finding presence on the South African market and the rest of the continent.”

He added: “South Africa is not the first mover, but an early mover. We want to establish this technology on the African continent. We want to establish this technology as something that builds the platinum industry and supports and expands the platinum industry in South Africa.”

Fuel cell tech in S.Africa

In 2015, Africa’s first-ever 100 kilowatt fuel cell, which runs on platinum and natural gas, was installed at the Chamber of Mines offices in Johannesburg.

The Platinum Power Fuel Cell project was a joint venture between the Department of Trade and Industry, which funded the feasibility study estimated at ZAR7.5 million ($592,014), and energy company Mitochondria, which received loan financing of ZAR3.25 million ($253,751) from the Industrial Development Corporation.

At the launch of this installation, industry put out a call for platinum-rich South Africa to commit to 1,000MW of platinum fuel cell-generated electricity by 2020.