During the tabling of the mineral resources’ budget vote for 2019/20 to the National Assembly, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has once again reiterated his stance in that South Africa’s mining industry is a sunrise industry, calling on the mining industry to focus on the exploration and exploitation of the country’s world-class mineral deposits.
Mantashe pointed out the need to resuscitate Greenfield exploration in a bid to capture a minimum of 5% of the global exploration share, which currently averages about US$10 billion a year.
Mineral resources has been allocated a R2-billion budget for the 2019/2020 financial year.
The minister believes that the Department's investment during this calendar year will attract a minimum of R8 billion into the South African exploration sector.
To this end, the government has deliberately decided to invest in the geoscience mapping programme, through the Council for Geoscience.
The countries geoscience mapping programme and its online cadastre system – the South African Mineral Resources Administration System (SAMRAD) – which was aimed at fostering an increased tempo of exploration in South Africa by ending the long administrative delays when applying for exploration rights and mining permits, has long been criticised for being dysfunctional and a far cry from the cadastres of other African mining jurisdictions.
Stable investment environment
Mantashe said that the principal mining industry Act – the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act – as well as Section 100 thereof, are clear on requirements for current and potential investors.
“Together with stakeholders, we are developing a growth and competitiveness strategy; conscious that growth, transformation and competitiveness are all critical for the long-term sustainability of the mining sector,” he said.
By way of example, Mantashe said that significant investments, totalling R45 billion and creating an estimated four thousand permanent jobs, poured into the sector in the past year. Among them; R21.8 billion by Vedanta Resources in the Northern Cape; Sasol’s R14 billion mine replacement programme at Shondoni and Impumelelo in Mpumalanga; and Exxaro’s R3,3 billion mine investment in Belfast, Mpumalanga.
“These are an endorsement to South Africa being an attractive destination for mining investment,” he said, adding that over 2018 to 2020, a total of 60 mineral resources projects are in the pipeline, with an investment estimate value of R110 billion, and a projected employment of 32 000 jobs for projects in exploration, expansion, new mines and processing plants.
The department said that it recognises the growth of junior miners, who are significant players in exploration.