Every Friday, SAfm’s radio anchor Sakina Kamwendo speaks to Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly. Reported here is this Friday’s At the Coalface transcript:
Kamwendo: The Mining Indaba has become a budding United Nations of Africa that is singing off the same hymn sheet to build a better continent.
Creamer: This is fantastic, because you had sitting Presidents actually addressing the Indaba for the first time. Big impact was made by Cyril Ramaphosa the President of South Africa and also major impact from the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo. Both came through with very strong points about mining needing to provide inclusive growth and then joining them were top business people like Ivanhoe mines executive chairperson and founder Robert Friedland.
He was saying that working together can deliver mining’s massive benefits for all. All were acknowledging that this mining industry is a wealth creator of note, but all were lamenting the fact that the wealth is not spreading to the people and the stakeholders. One thing that came through from Ghana was that they are not going to tolerate mining companies that desecrate the ground and pollute their rivers.
They are also going to fight tooth and nail against illegal mining, which they say has been the biggest damager of their economies. Also, they want beneficiation. Both Cyril Ramaphosa and Nana Akufo-Addo said that they must add value where ever there is a business case to do so. Cyril Ramaphosa also challenged them on ten points, but a big point was that he would like to see mineworkers on the boards of directors of mining companies and also mineworkers cut into the shareholding so that they can benefit from dividends.
Kamwendo: De Beers stole the Mining Indaba show by announcing a R30-million investment in diamond exploration in South Africa.
Creamer: Our Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe was pleading for exploration. Of the exploration investment globally, South Africa only got 1% compared with much bigger infusion of this capital into Australia and Canada. He was saying that most of the investment that went in was for brownfields exploration, which is not the true exploration.
So, it was great news that De Beers Consolidated Mines, the South African part of De Beers, said that they would be spending R30-million on greenfield diamond exploration in South Africa this year and that they would be prepared to spend a lot more once things unfolded. Of course, De Beers is in a fantastic position, because they have been checking on where diamonds are positioned in South Africa for the last 100 years. Now, to benefit them further is new technology, which can give them a much bigger picture of the value of those diamonds.
They have been granted 32 exploration licences. Under the previous Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), they wouldn’t give them an exploration licence. Now, under the new DMR they have got 32 exploration licences. They are looking for a lot more and they are going into the Northern Cape and areas where they have mined before. They are hoping that it would be so successful that they will be able to march back to Kimberley in glory.
Kamwendo: Gold mining companies that destroy Africa’s environment are being barred from using official top-dollar marketing channels.
Creamer: The London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), which gets billions of rands of refined gold going through its area in London, is saying, unless you do things properly in Africa we will not take your gold. If we don't take your gold you won’t have access to the markets that pay top dollar for gold.
So, they came to the Mining Indaba and they said that we have tried to keep out money laundering and succeeded. We have tried to keep out conflict gold and succeeded. Now, we want to protect Mother Earth and unless you go along with us and protect the environment and make sure that there is a sustainability aspect to the way you mine, we will not accept that gold. If our refiners do accept gold from errant and polluting sources they will be expelled from the LBMA and therefore won't get access to the top dollar that they do when they work through this London Market.
Kamwendo: Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.