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Mining sector focus can eliminate South Africa’s Budget deficit, create far-reaching economic benefit

12th April 2019

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Come on, South Africa, let’s get mining’s act together in a way that reaps far more rewards for the South African people.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe both know the mining industry inside out, which puts them in a twin position to persuade Cabinet to give mining that final push for the benefit of the South African economy as a whole.

Remove the last obstacles to inclusive mining growth and South Africa will begin to feel positive effects as soon as in next year’s Budget.

If you don’t believe me, chat to Australia’s Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who has watched mining push the federal government back into the black for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis hit and has been the first to acknowledge that the surplus would not have been possible without mining’s help.

Very helpful to the mining sector’s cash generation in Australia is the clear path forward that the country’s federal government has provided in the form of a strategy that maps out a vision for the exploration, extraction, production and processing of critical minerals.

The country’s commitment of tens of billions of dollars to infrastructure development is also exceedingly helpful and there is nothing stopping South Africa from doing the same.

Encouraging the three ‘i’s’ of investment, innovation and infrastructure is a modern-world must.

Take, for instance, the Eskom problem. While one team is fixing the State electricity utility to ensure that it produces well immediately, another team should be working as feverishly on bringing in the new clean, low-cost alternatives.

Failure to do so will result in major lost opportunity. South Africa has better solar and wind resources than just about any other country, which will make its electricity cheaper and be a major pick-me-up for this country’s depleting minerals-energy complex.

The sun-energised hydrogen age is the way the country should be heading for reasons of lower cost and climate change mitigation.

That Anglo American hopes to run haul trucks on hydrogen should set thought processes in motion.

Produce hydrogen with the excess sun power and then drive mining haul trucks cleanly on the electricity produced from the hydrogen. This is a no-brainer for a country like South Africa, which hosts the world’s platinum group metals (PGMs) treasure chest.

PGMs producers can help to meet the world demand for clean electricity and healthy air. PGMs not only assure that but also work hand in glove with renewable energy.

The truth is that South Africa is in a strong position to decarbonise its energy mix cost effectively while, at the same time, lifting economic growth and generating new jobs.

Come on, Cabinet, let’s take off.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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