JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – There is a close relationship between mining and manufacturing, especially in terms of the equipment that is manufactured and supplied to the mining industry, Manufacturing Circle executive director Phillipa Rodseth said at the Manufacturing Indaba, on Tuesday.
Speaking during a panel session on mining and manufacturing in South Africa, she noted that areas that have negatively impacted on the manufacturing sector have been unattractive commodity prices and challenges within the mining sector.
“The two are very much interrelated. We need to look at the dynamics and identify synergies between the two, especially if we want to grow the manufacturing sector, reindustrialise and arrest premature deindustrialisation,” she said.
Also speaking as part of the panel Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa deputy chairperson Ulrich Kienle said the local manufacture of products and technologies for the mining industry made sense; however, there needed to be a much better understanding of what the mining industry actually consumes.
“South Africa, as a mining nation, spends $2-billion on mining goods each year, and the Southern African Development Community region also spends about $2-billion on importing mining goods each year,” he said, adding that much of the goods are imported from other parts of the world.
He highlighted that this should present interesting opportunities for local manufacturers in the quest to reindustrialise South Africa’s manufacturing sector.
He stressed, however, that often, the perception in the mining industry was that local products were of inferior quality, late to be delivered and not sophisticated.
“Many South African mining technologies are innovative and unique and, because our mining happens at a great depth, we have a distinction in mining hard rock orebodies. They are challenging to mine and the technologies that have been developed around them have a lot of appeal overseas,” he said.
Deat Capital MD Nicky Moyo, meanwhile, said it was important for South Africa to broaden its manufacturing sector throughout the African continent.
“To expand South Africa’s industrialisation value chains, the sector needs to think about expanding into the continent sustainably. The idea of buy local should apply to the entire continent and South Africa should create a market through technology transfer,” he noted.
He pointed out that South Africa was ahead of the rest of the continent regarding industrialisation, but stated that the country’s economy was not growing as fast as that of other African countries.
“This creates an inter-dependence in terms of success . . . so as much as we think about attracting foreign direct investment, we should think about trading more onto the continent and opening up to importing and exporting more throughout Africa,” he said.