Is the Northern Cape the new mining boom province? – by Lisa Steyn (Business Live – June 27, 2019)

Historic mines in the mineral-rich Northern Cape have a new lease of life thanks to the rise of smarter technology

The dusty, sparsely populated Northern Cape may seem far removed from the notion of the fourth industrial revolution and the rapid technological advances that characterise it.

But the province, possibly more than any other in SA, has the potential for a mining boom in new-tech minerals: zinc, nickel, lead, copper and cobalt. These are key elements in the manufacture of smartphones, electric vehicles and renewable power systems.

And with healthy prices and a good outlook for base metals, and other minerals key to new technologies, a few companies are looking to revive and even expand the Northern Cape’s proven resources. These include smaller players like Orion Minerals (listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and the JSE) and Daphne Mashile-Nkosi’s Kalahari Resources, as well as big names like Kumba Iron Ore.

The region is better known as the source of 95% of SA’s diamond output and, in more recent history, has emerged as a major producer of high-quality iron ore and manganese, as it holds 80% of the planet’s resources.

At Okiep, the oldest mining town in SA, a number of operators are working on projects that could revive production. And Orion Minerals is developing a flagship zinc copper project at Copperton, an Anglovaal mine that produced 1Mt of zinc and 430,000t of copper before it closed in 1991.

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