There has been much hype around changing the view of the Mining Industry of South Africa as a “sunset industry” to one of a “sunrise industry”. Such a transition obviously depends on the mineral potential that the country is endowed with, that can be turned to account. This applies not only to our traditional base of precious metals, diamonds, coal and ferrous metals, and the new uses to which these can be applied, but also to the “new metals and minerals” that our changing industrial demands are creating. This relates to the rare earths, heavy minerals and industrial minerals that find use in the manufacturing of new technologies, and an increased focus on local beneficiation and value addition.
Estimates from the US Geological Survey and the Council for GeoScience, certainly verify that our mineral wealth is by no means depleted, in that not only are there copious resources of new minerals, and also of traditional metals and commodities, either at lower grades, at depth, or in undiscovered fields.
Finding and increasing the confidence of these resources obviously requires exploration activity.
In 2002, South Africa’s share of African exploration budgets was 36%. This has since decreased to a meagre 6% in 2017.
The critical question of course, is “why is this so?”
The answer lies in a combination of reasons, including policy issues needed to unlock access to exploration targets, licencing issues, prospectivity area extents, funding aspects and access for junior exploration companies. Retention licencing also remains an area of concern.
In order to address these issues, and to come up with a creative set of actions that can break down barriers to entry, and enable access for exploration activity to be significantly increased, the Southern African institute of Mining and Metallurgy is presenting an open event on 11th and 12th September at the Glenhove Conferencing Centre. An array of leading experts in the field have been aligned to speak and debate issues at this event.
Everyone interested in participating in this important event are welcome to attend, through contacting the SAIMM through its website, and the portal to “upcoming events”.
Through active participation and a collaborative approach to unlocking our mineral potential through exploration, we can make a difference to the contribution of our Minerals Industry to value creation, employment and diversity.