HOTAZEL (miningweekly.com) – Mining companies that refused to transform had no place in South Africa, Minerals Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Friday, shortly before President Jacob Zuma, from the same platform, praised the confidence that London-listed GlencoreXstrata had demonstrated in South Africa by listing on the JSE.
Both were speaking at the launch of the integrated manganese mine and sinter plant, in the Northern Cape, and a planned manganese smelter at Coega, in the Eastern Cape. “Beneficiation is the way the whole of Africa has to go,” Zuma said, quipping that he had instructed Shabangu to make it a mining licence condition. The President has just returned from Ghana, which, he said was also striving for maximum local minerals beneficiation.
Earlier Kalagadi Manganese chairperson and co-founder Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, the woman who led the project in the teeth of the world’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, said of the final leg of the project: “The smelter must be constructed. Forward we go, backwards, never”, to cheers from her team.
Kalagadi Manganese COO Thulo Malumise and the company’s CFO Sello Motau are both confident of raising the necessary funding from international development finance institutions (DFIs), which are keen to set a precedent of African women-led minerals beneficiation.
“Transformation is not an option. It’s either that you are with us or you ship out,” Shabangu said hawkishly and ominously in view of the intense current industry discussion under way ahead of the imminent potential enactment of far-reaching legislative amendments to South African minerals legislation.
The President heaped praise on Mashile-Nkosi for going all out to ensure that not a single ton of raw manganese ore would leave South Africa’s shores.
Value would be added to every bit of manganese that left the gates of the Kalagadi with plans to add still more at a smelter in Port Elizabeth, Zuma noted with adulation.
Kalagadi Manganese has an underground mine that is due to come on stream in the second quarter of 2014, an ore-preparation plant, a sinter plant and power, rail, water and road infrastructure already in place.
The sinter plant was operational until September, when it suffered a transformer failure that is expected to be rectified by January 15, when the plant will resume operation using fine manganese material from neighbouring mines with the same geology.
The President described the Northern Cape province’s big Hole of Kimberley as a painful reminder of how mining should not be done.
He said the government was also very excited that the presence of shale gas in the Karoo provided an exciting new potential opportunity.
“We must explore this potential,” Zuma said, adding that government was acutely aware of its environmental responsibilities and that the Minerals Minister would be undertaking a series of consultations with affected communities.
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