A bold new future for African Mining at the 2024 Mining Indaba.

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It’s always amazing to witness the growth of an idea that began with a small audience that eventually grew to an even greater community from all over the world. This year was no exception as mining professionals from all over the globe convened for what was the 30th anniversary of the Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from the 5th to the 8th of February 2024.  

 

Have there been any tangible milestones since the first Mining Indaba in 1994 or have these 30 gatherings been reduced to just rhetoric that pacifies the intended beneficiaries of proceeds from these precious minerals that are extracted from the belly of the earth? Well, to answer these questions, we need to have a look at some of the key takeaways and insights from the conference. 

 

This year’s Mining Indaba convened under the theme of “Embracing the power of positive disruption: A bold new future for African Mining”. It is important to note that with each conference, the magnitude of the Indaba always leaves a mark on our economy. The current increase in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by R 248 million ($13,1 million) is a testament to just how crucial the Mining industry is to the South African economy. The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe has highlighted that despite the economic challenges, the government has initiatives aimed at diminishing bottlenecks and promoting increased efficiency and transparency in the Mining sector. Minister Mantashe acknowledged the challenging landscape in 2023 which put operational costs under immense pressure which subsequently led to the sector’s contribution to the economy being the bare minimum. He listed issues such as high energy prices, loadshedding, inflation, and logistical bottlenecks as some of the main reasons behind this pressure. To address these issues, the government is investing in efforts and resources to resolve these bottlenecks through the National Energy and Logistics Crisis Committees which are comprised of both the private and public sectors. The Minister further commended the South African mining industry for its resilience that it showed through its marginal but significant contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2023’s first and second quarter statistics. 

 

According to Minister Mantashe, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy is closely monitoring the implementation of R 400 billion ($21,2 billion) in mining projects committed at various investment conferences between 2018 and 2023. He further cited that these projects cut across the mining value chain and are diversified in terms of geographical location and commodity. To support this statement, he made a couple of examples of these projects. First was Nkwe Platinum, which committed R 13 billion ($ 690,2 million) in 2021 for a new platinum mine and has invested approximately R 640 million ($32,6 million) towards the construction of the mine. Secondly, he mentioned the Mokala Manganese Mine in the Northern Cape province which began construction in 2019 with an investment of R 1 billion ($53,1 million). The investment led to the production and exportation of 2,3 million tons of Manganese to date. Lastly, he mentioned Menar, which through its subsidiaries, committed to investing R 7 billion (R371,7 million) in coal and anthracite projects in the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. The Minister further cited that the company produced its first coal at its new Gugulethu Mine. 

 

The Minister wasn’t going to end his keynote address without addressing the Elephant in the room. He said that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has procured a service provider for the design, implementation and maintenance of a mining licensing system for efficiency in the application, awarding and management of prospecting and mining rights permits. Furthermore, the system will be implemented over a period of time to ensure the proper migration of existing data to guarantee regulatory certainty. Minister Mantashe said that out of the 2000 applications received in the beginning of the financial year, his department has granted 268 prospecting rights, 32 mining rights, 85 renewals, 184 amendments and 190 permits. 

 

It’s safe to say that our local mining sector has kept its head above water amid the economic challenges to truly create a bold new future for African Mining. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these new developments within the Mining industry.