South African President Zuma officially opened the Kalagadi Manganese mine on Friday 27 November 2013, hailing it as a “beacon of hope.”

Kalagadi is an underground mine that boasts the largest manganese sinter plant in the world, and the first such mine to be owned by a woman. The mine includes a beneficiation facility expected to beneficiate up to three million tonnes of manganese a year and pledges that to serve as a model for ensuring that mineral wealth leads to economic development in poverty stricken areas.

Executive Chairperson of Kalagadi Manganese, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, said that “not an ounce [of the mine’s ore] will be exported raw,” without an element of beneficiation. She added that the final phase of the mine will be the construction of a smelter plant in the Coega Industrial Development Zone at a cost of R6 billion. “The smelter must be constructed. Forward we go, backwards, never.”

At the opening, Zuma called the Kalagadi Manganese mine “a landmark project that contributes immensely to boosting our mining sector and our infrastructure development plan.” He praised Nkosi, saying that “this project demonstrates the capabilities of women as entrepreneurs and leading captains of industry.”

Zuma went on to commend the mine for providing infrastructure that will benefit local communities and boost economic growth in the province. “Through this project, the province of the Northern Cape has seen a capital injection of about R6.5 billion, within a space of four years, with at least 3 000 direct jobs created and skills being developed among the local youth.”

Speaking at the same event, Minerals Resources Minister Susan Shabangu warned mining companies ahead of the 2014 elections that “Transformation is not a choice. It’s either that you are with us or you ship out. Mining companies that refuse to transform have no space in South Africa.”

To conclude, both Shabangu and Zuma praised Kalagadi for its perfect safety record. “You have been in operation for four years, but there has been no fatality,” said Shabangu.

“This deserves to be emulated,” added Zuma.

“When South African companies show confidence in the South African economy, we can achieve great things. We are further encouraged by companies such as Glencore Xstrata, which has recently listed on the JSE, demonstrating confidence in the mining sector,” Zuma concluded.

Picture: President Jacob Zuma and Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, Kalagadi Manganese executive chairperson, officially open the world’s largest sinter plant.