CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has expressed concern about progress in beneficiating minerals, while Eskom is still battling.
“If we don’t sort out Eskom problems, we are going to be in trouble with beneficiation. There must be an arrangement for certain categories of customers for an electricity price.”
Mantashe said it was difficult to beneficiate minerals such as manganese and chromium, as the price of electricity was too high.
“If you take iron-ore, manganese and chromium…..it’s very energy intensive to convert them into finished products. The environment for business must be friendly for investment and beneficiation.”
Speaking at the Young Leaders Programme at the Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, Mantashe called on mining companies to open up job, procurement and entrepreneurial opportunities to young people who will be at "the heart of digital mining" in future.
In turn, he called on young people to embrace mining as an industry of the future.
“New technology will not destroy jobs. It will create different kinds of jobs. Young people must take up these opportunities and no longer look at mining as a migrant labour system,” Mantashe told learners, students and other young people interested in moving into the industry.
He said the nature of the mining industry was changing rapidly.
“Lifelong employment is gone forever and it will not come back. The day when you were a driller, then became a section team leader and then a mine overseer…that time is going. People should not see themselves as victims of change, but rather move with the times.”
Mantashe noted very encouraging signs of transformation in the industry. “Many young professionals are forming their own mining companies and running operations on their own.”
He called on companies to engage with universities, offer bursaries and support young people. He added that universities and colleges, especially in mining areas, needed to be in tune with the skills that were needed in the industry. At the same time, communities and workers needed to feel included and appreciated.
“It is important to ensure that all stakeholders are serviced, so that there is stability and money grows. Where there is instability and disruption, investors expect a higher return or they move out.”
Mantashe also spoke out about protests in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, where many community members are against the issuing of a titanium mining licence to Transworld Energy and Minerals, a subsidiary of Australian mining company, Minerals Commodities Limited. A meeting recently turned violent after Mantashe addressed the community. Police also fired stun grenades as community members fled.
“We should be patient in dealing with the sentiment that is anti-development,” said Mantashe, but that violence was not on. He said the community should realise the value of a potential development.
“Once a road is built there, there will be potential for tourism and agriculture.”