Minister Gwede Mantashe: Council for Geoscience Summit

Remarks by the Honourable Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe, Council for Geoscience Summit, Durban ICC, 25 October 2022

“It is a very proud moment to bear witness and partake in the celebration of 110 years since the formation of the Council for Geoscience (CGS). The entity has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1912 as the Geological Survey of the country. Coincidentally, the year of 1912 also marks the birth of the governing party, the African National Congress. The two organisations lived through the same history of the country but perhaps at different extremes of the spectrum.

The establishment of the CGS came shortly after the Union of South Africa was formed. It was no coincidence that the CGS, a s microcosm of society, found itself entangled as a repository of privilege for the minority. The dawn of a constitutional democratic dispensation  brought  about  hope for a truly democratic, non-sexist, and non-racial environment in which the current shape and form of the CGS has found expression.

As we convene to celebrate the historical and current contribution of the geosciences to human development, we also consider the next 110 years of even greater scientific contribution.

Increasingly, science evidence has become the cornerstone of policy formulation for the country, the African continent, and the world.

Our nation is faced with challenges which require a more pre-eminent role of the geosciences to find expression in addressing these societal challenges. These challenges include, albeit not limited to energy security, just energy transition, sustainable food supply, economic growth, climate change challenge, disaster management that arises from natural phenomenon such as floods and earthquakes.

You may recall that the host province of Kwa-Zulu Natal recently experienced the most devastating disaster that demolished houses and infrastructure. It has never been more important for any infrastructure development to consider geo-technical conditions appropriately prior to effecting such development.

It is precisely in this context that the amendment of the Geoscience Act empowered the CGS to review all geo-technical reports and provide appropriate advice to the local authorities in consideration of their infrastructure development programmes. I call upon our municipalities to imbue this notion in their by-laws to augment their service delivery programmes to the satisfaction of the people they serve.

The Geoscience Act also empowered the CGS to undertake exploration. I am expecting them to work with the private sector to re-catalyse the exploration activities in the country, in line with the geological potential. As the world’s economic trajectory demands new suite of minerals deemed to be critical minerals for lower carbon footprint, there had never been a better time for the geoscience communities to work together and prepare to unravel the possibilities of South Africa as a source of these minerals, advanced in the manner that optimizes the benefit for the people of the country.

The lead role of the CGS in the Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) gives us hope that our Just Energy Transition programme can be attained with one of our most valuable commodity that has provided base load for the country. Our commitment to the international protocol on climate change remains resolute. Our transition from high to low carbon emissions might be achieved with coal as part of the solution, if the hypothesis of clean coal is proven.

We have allocated an additional R500 million to the CGS in the current cycle of MTEF to accelerate geo-mapping in support for exploration. I encourage collaboration with academia and private sector to unleash the true potential of the country.

Earlier this year, we published the Geoscience Act Regulations to enable the CGS as a true custodian and repository of the geoscientific data and information, the heritage of the country. The CGS must give confidence to the generators of this data and information that it is managed professionally and with the sensitivity it deserves. They have assured me that they have developed systems, processes, and procedures to effect this responsibility with distinction.

South Africa has been a mining for over 150 years, during which time a lot of geoscientific information had been collected. This information, which was collected by some companies that have since departed our shores, is not readily available to the State. I have confidence that you will rise to the national call of duty.

I am informed that the Russian delegation of geoscientists is here to not only celebrate with us, but to also foster strategic partnership on both bilateral basis as well as exploration of multi-lateralism. I am also informed that the members of academia, the private sector, Geological Society of South Africa, the Chinese representation as well as the Organisation of African Geological Surveys are here. This demonstrates the importance of strategic partnerships in fostering the coalescence of the willing, as you individually and jointly seek to accelerate the significance of geosciences in finding lasting solutions.

Whilst, we have made environmental preservation a Constitutional prerogative, our attempt to achieve this objective ought not be executed at the expense of development. There’s no reason why conservation and development cannot be mutually reinforcing, as the two are not binary in character. As the members of the geoscientific community, I implore you to design your programmes in a manner that will advance the notion of co-existence between these two.

As we seek all manner of sources of sustainable energy sources, such sources as geothermal must be considered in South Africa. The preliminary research undertaken by the CGS illuminates this prospect, albeit at early stages. Every effort must be put into confirming the prospects, so that we can enrich our energy basket.

The use of seismic survey as an instrument of research is well developed as a geoscientific instrument, spanning both terrestrial and marine applications. It would appear that the South African citizenry is oblivious to this knowledge as a result of which, there are critical decisions that are taken within the country that delay possibilities of allowing us to explore and develop the hydrocarbon prospects in our shores. It is incumbent upon the geoscientific community to educate members of society about this hidden treasure of the nation, the geoscientific prowess.

Ladies and gentlemen, an occasion of this nature requires us to blow our own horn a little bit. Not many institutions live to tell of 110 years of existence and still maintain their relevance. The CGS was relevant in 1912 and has become even more relevant today. In recent years, personnel of the CGS have contributed extensively to the development of South Africa, the African continent and internationally.

Internationally, this contribution has been through their involvement in international mapping projects in a number of African countries, Haiti and the United Arab Emirates, amongst others.

On the continent, the CGS continues to actively participate in a variety of Southern African Development Community projects aimed at promoting the economic development of the African subcontinent. In this regard, the organisation has contributed significantly in the development of geoscience knowledge on the continent. Accordingly, it was instrumental in the founding, and still plays an active role in the activities of, the Organisation of African Geological Surveys.

As we look onto the future, it is envisaged that the CGS will play a key role in providing geoscientific solutions to several challenges facing our country and the continent.

It is expected that the  CGS will play a technical role  in addressing the urgent problems of water ingress and Acid Mine Drainage that we have inherited because of historical unsustainable mining practices.   

Moreover, there are challenges of water scarcity in many parts of the country which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The problem of illegal mining has engulfed the country. We have been consistent that this is a crime and there can be no room for such activity is South Africa. Accordingly, I appreciate the responsiveness of the CGS in speedily developing illegal mining tracker © technique using geoscientific techniques, which will detect illegal mining activities well in advance and communicated with the law enforcement authorities to deal with such activities timely.

The CGS is actively involved in assessing the negative impacts of the mining industry as well as other human activities on our water resources. This is achieved by conducting episodic and continuous monitoring and by providing support and recommendations to institutions and other government departments. Furthermore, the CGS is actively involved in water-related research and the development of local skilled manpower in collaboration with several institutions including the Water Research Commission, the CSIR, the Department of Water Affairs, the Department of Science and Innovation, the Housing Development Agency, Sanral, and the South African National Research Foundation.

The government’s multibillion infrastructure build programme will require CGS and the geo-technical community to play an acute role in safe-guarding the integrity of critical infrastructure investment.

It is essential that infrastructural development be accompanied by sound geotechnical investigations and information. As the national mandated authority in respect of geo-hazards related to infrastructure development, the CGS should in future ensure safe development on hazardous ground, by verifying that all necessary steps of the appropriate geotechnical investigations are performed prior to any housing  and  infrastructure  development.

I am proud to note that the CGS is already undertaking work in this area of geotechnical investigation reports on potentially unstable dolomitic areas identified for the construction of RDP houses and will be expected to participate in government’s infrastructural development programme.

As we modernise geological mapping, a greater need for rapid collection, interpretation, and integration of mapping data as well as the dissemination of the products to clients and stakeholders in digital formats accessible via the internet,  has never been more pronounced.  The rapid  collection of comprehensive data will also facilitate a more pro-active approach to planning and development. The CGS is indeed integral to government planning and this needs to be elevated as we move to reposition this organisation. We have taken a deliberate decision to resource the CGS to embed applications of artificial intelligence in the context of the fourth industrial revolution. Training of 30 drone pilots is indeed applauded and positioned the CGS along the development trajectory sought to optimise partnerships and impact on its mandatory  deliverables.

Whilst it is safe to assume that this centennial year of the CGS will usher in changes to many aspects of the organisation, clearly the future success of the CGS will depend on how successfully it provides solutions to the changing needs of the community it serves. However, I have confidence that the CGS will gain strength in its journey as it continues to build on past successes and adapts itself to the ever-changing global landscape of the earth sciences. As a science institution, the organisation can only increase its success by expanding its partnerships in the geoscientific environment.

Let me conclude by congratulating the staff of the CGS on 110 years of proud achievements as well as the broader geoscientific community. May the next 110 years be better, and may you contribute greatly to the wellbeing of South Africa and its people.”

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Sibanye CEO says the burning planet is driving company’s green metals drive

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman on the sidelines of the Joburg Mining Indaba that climate change was driving its expansion into green metals. And, with a possible global recession looming, he sees opportunities to scoop up more assets in that space.

By Ed Stoddard 

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman, like most mining executives, is often directed by science. You don’t find metals with a divining rod. And with Johannesburg baking in October, he said climate change was the key driver of Sibanye’s current investment strategy of taking a deep dive into the battery metals seen as crucial to the green transition from fossil fuels. 

“There is so much evidence of intense and changing weather patterns across the world. Just look at the UK a few weeks ago, heat wave. Look at Europe, the Rhine River getting too low to transport material,” Froneman said in an interview on the sidelines of the Joburg Mining Indaba, organised by Resources For Africa.

Held at the Inanda Club, the polo ground outside was fading from green to reddish dirt as it shrivelled under the unrelenting sun and dust swirled from the stables.

Froneman also noted the flooding around the company’s Stillwater platinum group metals (PGM) operation in Montana earlier this year which disrupted production there for seven weeks.

“That was a one-in-500-year climate event,” Froneman said. “Climate change is real and we can’t risk not doing anything about global warming. This is where our vision, our purpose comes in terms of providing green metals to support the reversal of climate change.”

Policy is also driving change as governments around the world legislate and regulate to curb emissions, boosting demand for the metals needed to make such goals a reality.

Among other moves on this front, Sibanye recently completed a series of transactions to secure an 87% stake in Keliber Oy, a Finnish lithium project. Keliber aims to be the first fully integrated lithium producer in Europe, supplying about 15 000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide monohydrate per annum into the European battery industry.

On the expansion into green metals, Froneman said: “We have not stopped and PGMs are part of the solution, they are green metals in their own right. What we are doing now is expanding the portfolio to include battery metals. With PGMs, we have a very solid base, we can look out 50 years on our production profile.”

Froneman said that Sibanye sees more green metals acquisitions in the pipeline. 

“We believe the recession will create opportunities,” he said, referring to growing concerns that a confluence of events including rapidly rising interest rates worldwide to contain inflation was tipping the global economy into recession. 

“We believe next year we will be in a fairly deep recession and we’ve kept our balance sheet strong with a view to being able to take advantage of that situation,” he said.

By that, Froneman meant that asset prices should become cheaper because of the sour global economy, providing an opportunity for a company with the means to snap some up. At the end of June this year the company had more than R27-billion in cash on hand.

In the space of the decade since Sibanye began life as a Gold Fields’ spin-off mining the latter’s deep-level and labour-intensive gold mines in South Africa, a lot has changed.

Climate change was high on the agenda then, but green metals were seldom spoken of and ESGs — environmental, social and governance concerns — were just starting to take root in global corporate discourse. They have since grown into almost an industry in their own right as our burning planet sizzles.

Climate change is now a key driver of mergers and acquisitions activity. Expect to see a lot more and not just from Sibanye, because the race is on in a new and frantic resource scramble. 

Article courtesy of Daily Maverick

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SEIFSA and MEMSA join forces to celebrate excellent manufacturers

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) and the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (MEMSA) will celebrate the hard work and dedication of manufacturing companies in their combined 2022 Awards for Excellence Event.

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Southern Africa Mining Giant, Vedanta Limited, makes moves in the Semiconductor Fabrication Industry

Vedanta Limited, the largest Indian investor in South Africa’s mining industry, signed two Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with the state of Gujarat of India to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant commonly referred to as a fab unit, a display fab unit, and a semiconductor assembling and testing unit in Ahmedabad in western India.

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SA is drowning in rubble

Surface mines should take the lead and help find solutions to the mounting waste crisis’ that threatens to engulf municipalities throughout the country.

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EUR 100-million loan for Africa Finance Corporation to support transition in Africa

The Italian development finance institution Cassa Depositi e Prestiti SpA (CDP) has agreed a debut 100 million euro loan for Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the leading infrastructure solutions provider on the African continent, to facilitate investments in renewable power, energy efficient projects and climate-resilient infrastructure.

CDP, with assets totalling over 400 billion euros, is providing the bilateral loan to support AFC projects that are urgently needed to transform African infrastructure to help combat and adapt to global warming, as well as catalyse industrialisation, create jobs and reduce poverty.

“Building strong partnerships with major international institutions such as Africa Finance Corporation is part of our strategy to scale up impact finance and accelerate the ecological transition in developing countries” affirmed Antonella Baldino, Head of International Cooperation and Development Finance at CDP. “It is in this spirit that we welcomed AFC recent entry into the International Development Finance Club. By intensifying our commitment to Africa, this operation best places CDP as a partner of choice for regional and local Development Finance Institutions.”

The loan agreement supports CDP’s mission to boost economic growth in emerging markets and expand Italy’s global investment footprint and demonstrates continued interest from European investors in high-quality infrastructure projects on the African continent.

“This milestone agreement today marks the start of a mutually beneficial relationship between AFC and CDP – the Italian DFI” said Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC. “Access to funding from highly rated institutions, like CDP, helps us to further our commitment to investing in projects that simultaneously combat climate change and develop the critical infrastructure required for Africa’s economic growth, while delivering reliably competitive investor returns.”

AFC has invested over $10 billion in projects spanning 35 African countries over 15 years. The Corporation draws capital from a diverse range of international investors and lenders as part of a strategy to maintain its investment grade credit rating of A3 at Moody’s. CDP joins AFC’s pool of funding partners comprising international development finance institutions such as the German Development Bank KfW, the India Exim Bank, and a syndication of Germany’s DEG, Netherland’s FMO and France’s Proparco, demonstrating global investor confidence in AFC’s strong credit profile and strategy to delivering de-risked, transformational projects for Africa.

The focus on sustainably reducing Africa’s energy deficit led to agreement by AFC last month to jointly acquire Lekela Power, the continent’s biggest renewables independent power producer, with plans to double generation capacity within four years. AFC’s approach to balancing the need for emissions reduction in Africa with critical development imperatives is set out in a recently published white paper titled Roadmap to Africa’s COP: A Pragmatic Path to Net Zero. The report received wide endorsement from leaders including Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Chair of the African Group of Negotiators at COP26, Tanguy Gahouma.

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ABB Ability™ eMine drives energy transition in the mining industry

Mining houses are confronted with the same energy transition as other industries and have an urgent responsibility to transform the way they mine through technological change.

By Erik Pretorius, Head of Sales: Africa and Australia, ABB

It is clear that the energy needs of the modern mine simply cannot be met sustainably with diesel machinery alone. There has to be a transformation and ABB is committed to working with mines to bring about that transformation.

We care deeply about the health, safety, and well-being of our planet as much as we do the people who inhabit it. Our vision is for CO2-free and energy-efficient mines to help combat climate change, creating sustainable progress for today and future generations. We work hand in hand with our clients and partners to convert existing mines from fossil fuel energy to all electric. In this way, ABB can assist the mining industry to meet its sustainability goals, while staying competitive and ensuring high productivity.

ABB Ability eMine™ makes the all-electric mine possible, with fully integrated electrification and digital systems from mine to port. The solution includes a portfolio of electrification and digital systems to accelerate decarbonisation in the mining sector. We support the mining industry from the early mine design stage to convey the full benefit posed by electrification, assisting with designing the hauling process to optimise it with electrical solutions that match mine constraints and help meet production targets.

The solution also focuses on supplying power to mining vehicles, with fit-for-purpose electrification to achieve the most optimised electrified process. In addition, the solution integrates with ABB Ability™ applications to plan, monitor, and control processes to optimise operations and energy usage.

A key component of keeping the all-electric mine running is ensuring that the equipment performs when required and that trucks can charge when they need to. We provide charging station solutions to meet the needs of modern mining operations and interface with all vehicles. eMine™ is vehicle type and OEM agnostic in that it supports an interoperable approach based on proven standards to provide any solution needed to charge battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

A new pilot innovation known as ABB Ability™ eMine™ FastCharge is set to become the world’s fastest and only fully automated charging system for haul trucks, offering up to 600 kW of power. Designed for the harshest environments, this flexible system can be easily installed anywhere to charge a truck without human intervention, and at the highest power on the market today to minimise downtime.

The solution includes ABB Ability™ eMine Trolley System technology to reduce diesel consumption by up to 90% while haul trucks are on a trolley system, which also reduces energy costs and environmental impact. In addition, electrified trucks run at a higher speed for a better speed-on-grade. Current trolley technology is based on diesel hybrids and can be supported by ABB’s Trolley System to assist with the successful transition to an all-electric mine. The system is ideal for heavy-duty vehicles such as those used for inclined hauling, an application that battery-only solutions cannot cater for at present.

We are committed to create sustainable progress for today and future generations by helping our mining clients through their energy transition. ABB Ability™ eMine makes the all-electric mine possible, with fully integrated electrification and digital systems from mine to port. From design to ongoing service, ABB is the partner that can transform today’s mine operations while improving the world beyond them.

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Reliable power solutions light the way for mining

Load shedding and power cuts are dominating all aspects of life, and many businesses and industries are looking at innovative ways to reduce their dependency on grid power, increase productivity, reduce operating costs, and be gentler on the environment. This is a monumental but not impossible task for South Africa’s mining industry which is making the switch and investing in renewable solutions. Financial services company, Deloitte, notes that energy is one of the biggest expenses for mining companies, constituting approximately 30% of total operating costs.1

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Wärtsilä power plant upgrade and extension will enable production expansion for largest gold mine in Senegal

The technology group Wärtsilä will supply an 18 MW extension to the power generating facility and upgrade the electrical and automation system of the existing power plant at the Sabodala-Massawa gold mine complex in Senegal, West Africa. The mine is owned by Endeavour Mining, a leading global gold producer. The upgrading and extension project will allow for the complete integration of all the site’s power generating capacity, while ensuring the availability of the needed electric power to maintain and expand the mine’s production schedules.

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Doors to mining opened by women engineers and scientists

Women working as consulting engineers and scientists are opening doors of opportunity in mining, breaking down discriminatory attitudes and creating role models for the future.

According to Vis Reddy, managing director of SRK Consulting, the consulting engineering sector has been an important contributor to gender transformation in mining.

“The growing number of women in SRK Consulting who occupy senior professional and leadership positions helps to set benchmarks in the sector,” said Reddy. “We hope to be sending out the right message of gender equality, as industry sees the critical role that women are now playing in advising clients on important technical and other issues.”

Change of this magnitude, however, does not happen on its own, he warned. It requires constant and ongoing commitment to removing barriers and supporting professional growth among young professionals.

“Starting with a focus on merit and capability, we continue working internally to make our business a place where women work as equals and can advance according to their contribution,” he said. “It is also vital that we support external initiatives for women in mining; in the long run, these are key to making the sector more attractive as career opportunity.”

SRK has engaged actively with the International Women in Mining Mentorship Programme, putting forward its own staff as mentors and mentees while also sponsoring the organisation as a whole. Reddy himself is mentoring technical services manager working for a gold mining company based in Greece, who is expanding her professional role into leadership. Younger engineers and scientists within SRK are also being mentored by experienced leaders in the sector.

Years of steady progress have seen the proportion of women at partner level within the company rise to almost 20%. Faster progress is on the horizon, with most of SRK’s associate partners now being women – indicating a strong supply line for leadership for the future.

“With two women on our board, including our financial director, we have made encouraging progress,” he said. “Of our production units, two out of eight are headed by women, and four of our seven support departments are led by women.”

He highlighted that transformation efforts needed to be multi-faceted, including racial diversity. This was all part of making the workplace more inclusive – which in turn could change people’s perception of mining.

“It wasn’t too long ago that mining – and even SRK and the consulting engineering sector itself – was very male-dominated, and with white males at that,” he noted. “As this changes, mining will undoubtedly become a more inviting environment for a broader spectrum of our skilled workforce – where the advancement opportunities for women, for instance, is more clearly visible among the leadership.”

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