Chromium carbide (CrC) wear solutions provider Rio-Carb MD Martin Maine has identified a gap in the mining sector in the form of a lack of local beneficiation in the second-tier supply chain in the South African mining industry, and has commissioned academic research to establish how the country can use its natural resources to stimulate economic growth from the grassroots level.
The research will focus specifically on how to develop the current South African mining industry to add value to its mineral reserves.
Maine notes that a failure to galvanise foreign direct investment and innovation in the second-tier supply chain has resulted in a large proportion of local mining equipment containing re-imported raw materials.
“Developing the industrial capability in these areas will generate employment and accelerate skills development, not only for the local communities themselves, but for the entire supply chain. This will also assist mining houses in complying with their local procurement and employment obligations in terms of broad-based black economic empowerment,” he comments.
He adds that, as most suppliers and original-equipment manufacturers are currently based in the larger metropolitan areas, there is a great need to establish supply, engineering and subcontracting companies closer to existing mining operations.
A stalwart of the mining industry in South Africa, Maine has extensive experience in physical metallurgy, and has participated in an array of international conferences and seminars. Twice president of the South African Institute of Welding, he has been involved with many of South Africa’s flagship infrastructure projects, including Sasol ll and lll, Koeberg and the Gariep dam.
As such, he and Rio-Carb are ideally positioned to promote such high-level research, being fully independent, and unaligned with any major corporate interests. “One of our major thrusts is to become more involved with the development of our industry. The market is simply not big enough to sustain future growth.”
Maine adds that the best means to guarantee the company’s viability is to promote the long-term growth of the South African mining industry itself.
Titled ‘Utilising South Africa’s natural resources to catalyse economic transformation from the grassroots’, the academic research will be conducted by Dr Anele Mngadi, in conjunction with leading international academic institutions, led by Harvard University.
Currently a nominee for Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, Mngadi has extensive economic and financial management experience in sub-Saharan Africa, China, the Middle East, Australia, the US and Switzerland over the past 28 years.
She is a renowned turnaround strategist specialising in economic development and holds various doctorates in both finance and public policy from leading tertiary institutions globally.
As part of her research, Mngadi will be accompanied on a whistle-stop tour of major South African and Namibian mining operations by Rio-Carb GM Sias Suurd, who holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, Honours in Design Engineering, and an MBA.
Mngadi will liaise extensively with local stakeholders, especially the Department of Mineral Resources, to ensure that the research findings reflect the needs of the South African landscape, and dovetail with the revised Mining Charter.
“We perceive a great need in South Africa for this level of research, which will help create an enabling environment for second-tier companies in the mining supply chain.
“It will also give us a bigger picture of local beneficiation, and how best to promote and nurture this fundamental requirement. Beneficiation of our vast mineral wealth is the best means to grow the economy, eradicate poverty, reduce unemployment and mitigate social unrest,” says Suurd.