Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane, emphasised this view at the 2017 Mining Indaba, saying the way to ensure SA’s mineral wealth is robust and benefits all, is through prioritising beneficiation.
With this national imperative in mind, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in the North West province is also looking at ways of diversifying its investment portfolio and focusing more on sectors outside of mining.
According to the IDC’s North West regional manager, David McGluwa, mining still remains the key driver of economic growth and job creation in the province. It is still one of the biggest contributors to the provincial economy and accounts for more than a third of the provincial GDP, with a quarter of the provincial workforce in it.
However, there are many other sectors in the North West province that provides investment opportunities, such as agro-processing, tourism, manufacturing and the green economy.
McGluwa reckons tourism is the next “mining” for the province, but the IDC will continue investing into other sectors like manufacturing, agro-processing, solar energy as well as waste processing.
With respect to mining, McGluwa says the IDC’s current focus is on the entire value chain, supporting beneficiation and transformation. The IDC believes that it if they are to increase jobs and create a lasting legacy, their partners in the mining industry need to aggressively pursue sustainable change and beneficiation, especially during tough times.
“It is no longer enough to merely dig up the minerals and ship them off to other places around the country and the world. Mining companies need to look at how they can derive more value out of what they’re mining by proactively developing new or different markets for their products.
“Some mining houses are now involved in fuel cells technology, which wasn’t the case in the past. This is the right way to go as it will also ensure that they are part of the decisions as to where their products go to or what they do. To us as the IDC, that is the direction we see mining in the province taking in the future,” says McGluwa.
McGluwa says in 2008 when the IDC started operating in the province, it had R1.4 billion invested in various sectors within the North West Province and that figure has since grown to R6.3 billion, creating 21 455 direct jobs to date.
“About R5.8 billion (92%), of our book in the province, is in the mining and beneficiation sector. So we are looking at expanding and developing other industries around mining. The tourism sector is one such key sector and we are looking at tourism related initiatives to help bolster the economy, together with the mining industry, which will still play a central role,” says McGluwa.
The IDC supports mining businesses that find fresh ways of enhancing their operations and making them sustainable. Getting this right ensures that all the stakeholders gain, as the company stays profitable, jobs are secured with more possibly getting created. Within its existing projects in the mining sector, the IDC encourages its partners to find new and innovative ways of doing business in an effort to stay not only profitable, but also relevant.