“We need to be aggressive in developing a junior mining sector in South Africa,” Chamber of Mines of South Africa (CoM) president Mike Teke told mining industry delegates on the first day of the Junior Indaba in Johannesburg.

In his keynote address on the importance and future of the exploration and junior sectors in the mining industry, he said there is sufficient room for juniors among the majors in South Africa’s mining industry.

Commenting on the state of the mining sector, Teke said the industry is “indeed suffering”.

Chamber of Mines of South Africa President Mkie Teke
Chamber of Mines of South Africa President Mkie Teke

He positioned the vision of the CoM to act for the industry as the key creator of decent jobs and to see government as a proud and fully supportive stakeholder. Teke spoke of his vision of a mining jurisdiction with proactive management, productive and fairly paid workforce, and that the Chamber should be the enabler in creating these balances.

“There are big opportunities for juniors in light of the urbanising world. The mining industry is central in providing the resources critical for urban development. South Africa needs to participate in this,” remarked Teke.

According to Teke, there are significant opportunities for juniors, and South African companies have the capability of going beyond South Africa “we need to consolidate the fragmented junior mining industry.”

The critical enablers necessary to consolidate the junior industry, Teke believes, will require rail and port transport utility Transnet, power utility Eskom, regulators, as well as the banking community (including private investors and government funders) to communicate with junior miners and help create models that work towards establishing a more consolidated junior mining industry.

Meanwhile, also speaking on the first day of the Junior Indaba, Department of Minerals and Resources (DMR) Chief Inspector of Mines, David Msiza, speaking on behalf of the Minerals Resources Minister, reminded delegates of the abundant world class mineral resource that exist in South Africa, and that the roll out has started to unlock the infrastructure opportunities in energy generation, transport, health and education, to name a few.

“It is evident that the junior mining sector is lagging behind on transformation targets, and we are encouraging this sector to be compliant. We are also committed to provide support to the sector in the processing of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill that has been referred back to parliament,” stated Msiza. “The DMR believes that one of the strengths of our mining industry is our spirit to engage and to come up with solutions, by working together with the state, business and investors.”

An anonymous survey undertaken amongst the delegates at the indaba revealed that only 46% of the mining industry delegates felt that they could do honest business with the DMR. In response to these results, Msiza said it is regrettable that such a negative perception exists, however he is encouraged by industry initiatives like the Junior Indaba, to help government understand and open up lines of communication and deal with the challenges facing this sector.

Some encouragement was found in the DMR’s continued efforts in the closing down of illegal miners. Msiza mentioned that the DMR will continue working with the sector, law enforcement agencies, and labour in this regard.

Meanwhile, the second day of the Junior Indaba provided a platform for junior miners to share their knowledge on the successes and pitfalls of their projects currently active in the sector and included presentations by Mozambique-focused mineral explorer and developer Regius Resources group, South African manganese producer Tshipi é Ntle and black-controlled opencast mining contractor African Sun Mining, to name a few.

An address and panel discussion on how to list on the NYSE and how to package one’s project to best attract international investor interest also took place on day two of the indaba.

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