Mining Indaba 2018: “South Africa remains critical investment destination”

Indaba SamRichards Bay Minerals is a Rio Tinto project in South Africa. (Image Source: Rio Tinto)South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister, Mosenbenzi Joseph Zwane opened Mining Indaba 2018 on 5 February, asserting that the country “remained a critical investment destination”

Thousands of delegates, representing 2,100 companies, are gathering this week for what is expected to be the biggest Mining Indaba to date to take advantage of huge investment opportunities across the continent.

Opening the show yesterday (5 February), minister Zwane urged investors to work with the government to turn policy directives into “mutually beneficial programmes” with no mention of the third version of the Mining Charter.

Instead he spoke about prices for most metals increasing year on year in 2017, including zinc by about 40 per cent, copper and iron ore by 20 per cent and how the recovery was expected to continue in the short to medium term, supporting commodity prices and demand.

He said, “We can therefore confidently assert that the spring in mining is indeed blossoming into a summer.”

Growth in the mining sector grew at 8.2 per cent and 6.6 per cent in the second and third quarters of 2017, and 5.2 per cent year on year. The mining industry was responsible for no less than 20 per cent of the growth in this period, with the greatest contributors to this growth being metals, such as copper, iron ore and PGMs.

As host of more than 80 per cent of global reserves, Minister Zwane said South Africa had taken a competitive sustainable and transformed mining industry lead in research and development for downstream beneficiation of PGMs, principally through the Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) flagship project, which is focused on developing downstream beneficiation of platinum through its use in hydrogen powered fuel cells.

“We stand ready to partner with investors in this and other priority value chains including titanium, iron ore and jewellery,” he asserted.

“We have over US$18.18bn worth of investments in the project pipeline, which includes PGMs, industrial minerals, energy and non-ferrous metals, demonstrating that South Africa remains a critical investment destination. We have bountiful reserves of platinum, ferrous and nonferrous metals, all crucial for industrialisation.”

He did admit exploration activities and expansion projects had, however, been constrained by “balance sheet conservatism” adopted as a defensive measure against the significant decreases in prices and demand between 2011 and 2015.

“This lag between increase in prices, and increase in exploration activities and increases in supply, is not new to the mining business cycle, but it does represent a massive opportunity cost,” he said but adding, “We thus wish to congratulate all investors and miners who had the foresight and fortitude to continue exploration and development programmes and who are poised to be the biggest winners in this upswing.”

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