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SA aims to be African mineral processing hub

South African
foreign minister
Maite Nkoana
Beijing, China — MININGREVIEW.COM — 26 February 2010 – South Africa wants to become a mineral processing hub for the continent, which would strengthen both the country’s economy and its position as a middleman between China and Africa.

After a series of meetings here, foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane confirmed that an agreement that would provide a framework for Chinese investment in processing plants, as well as increased diplomatic and economic ties, would be signed during an upcoming visit to China by President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa is now China’s fourth-largest iron ore supplier, and a conduit for cobalt and other minerals from central Africa. But Reuters reports that it has been developing a policy of beneficiation or value-added processing to try and retain jobs and revenue from its own and its neighbours’ mineral resources.

“What’s in this for us? It’s a lot. If you sell raw material and there’s no processing or beneficiation, you get less for the precious minerals that are not infinite,” Nkoana-Mashabane said. “You don’t want to be left with just big holes.”

Nkoana-Mashabane said the new agreement would provide incentives and training to facilitate investment from China, which saw South Africa as a stepping stone for investment into the continent.

“The relationship has matured to the level where we can now elevate it to a comprehensive, strategic partnership agreement,” she said. “It’s a right and desirable political statement that we are here to work with China.”