by Gregory Simpson

Editor's Note

An unforgettable year to forget

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Welcome to another edition of South Africa’s favourite quarterly mining publication. I’m happy to be able include some positive news from the mining industry of late with glimmers of recovery in certain sectors, while others continue to struggle.

Gold, manganese, chrome and coal are at sustainable prices and that is a positive for some of the backbones of the industry. However, political mismanagement is still an issue blocking growth with the report on State Capture not doing us any favours, and while the MPRDA amendment bill has gone through its first stages, uncertainly still abounds.As a result of the regulatory uncertainty around future mining legislation, it creates a un-investor friendly environment, which we can ill-afford given the pressure on our GDP, unemployment and a rand that has changed value more times than anybody cares to remember.It is only through smarter rhetoric from our politicians, more efficient working conditions, union buy-in and an increase in automation that more commodities will enjoy favourable runs.

Water continues to be a major problem in the mining-rich areas of SA. On a recent trip to Gauteng it was obvious that most, if not all of the rivers are polluted beyond a reasonable doubt. How did we let things get so bad? Was everybody so focused on money up there that they forgot to protect their precious water sources?

This is a major reason why the area needs to pump in water from the Lesotho Highlands project, and from the Sterkfontein Dam near Harrismith into the polluted Vaal River – to add some drinkable water into that system. This has the effect of spreading SA’s water resources too thin. The time has come for Gauteng to take responsibility for their shocking water quality and actually do something about it. The mining industry is one of the key polluters and needs to be brought to heel, for the sake of a sustainable future in not only mining, but for the general population.

As we look back on this year in mining, it has certainly been a difficult time, and it has certainly not been helped by the various external factors that unnecessarily weigh down the industry. SA mining is like a champion race horse that has 60kg of weight added to make it slower and to give other countries a chance. With the right leadership, investor outlook and legal framework, mining in our fair land could be the world beater that it deserves to be, and not playing catch-up the whole time.

With our dear President’s term coming to end next year, thankfully, there is a chance for some fresh ideas and hope. Only time will tell. So until we meet again in 2017, happy holidays.

 

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