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Journal President's Cornerpages

The uprising of the Youth

Although this edition is for the month of July, at the time of writing we are approaching the public holiday of Youth Day.

As we should all know, Youth Day in South Africa, celebrated on 16 June, is a public holiday that commemorates an event which resulted in a wave of protests across the country, known as the Soweto uprising of 1976. On this day, between 3000 and 10 000 protestors mobilized by the South African Students

Movements Action Committee, and supported by the Black Consciousness Movement’ marched peacefully to demonstrate and protest against the government-of-the-day’s directive to make the Afrikaans language alongside English the compulsory medium of instruction in schools in 1974.

25 years on, and it’s election time

Recently, I have written several articles around the 25 years of democracy that we have experienced, and the 125 years of the SAIMM’s history. These articles acknowledged the challenges we have experienced as an industry, but focused on the feeling of a ‘new dawn’ for a ‘sunrise industry’. As I write this, we are into election week, and so our minds are focused on the promises and criticisms of politicians jostling for our votes.

This makes me think of where we are after 25 years of democracy from a more circumspect standpoint, in order to really unpack what we need to do individually, as an industry, and as an Institute to realize a better future.

Raising the geometallurgical flag

The papers in this edition of the Journal have been written on excellent research work carried out in the field of geometallurgy, presented at the SAIMM’s Geometallurgy Conference, held in Cape Town in August 2018.

This conference followed a similar conference held some years earlier, in Johannesburg, and the difference in the quality and content of the papers clearly illustrates how this relatively new discipline has progressed over the last decade.

Treating the mineral asset like an asset

The papers in this edition are all related to Mineral Resource Management, the field in which Professor Richard Minnitt practised for many years in the Chair in Mineral Resources at the University of the Witwatersrand. Professor Minnitt has followed the great luminary, the late Danie Krige, in pioneering many aspects of this field, especially in the areas of geostatistics and mineral evaluation. It is most fitting that this special edition be dedicated to this area, and to Professor Minnitt.

Diamonds are forever

This edition of the Journal is dedicated to papers covering many aspects of the exploration, mining, processing, and beneficiation of diamonds: a commodity of great significance to the economy of South Africa for more than a hundred years. 

Diamonds provide a unique source of interesting history in South Africa, and learnings from the early days of diamond mining are still relevant to the formulation of policy issues today, especially amongst artisanal, emerging, and junior miners.

Of sun, shells, sand, and sea …

I recently visited the Eastern Cape for the occasion of my eldest son’s wedding. It is the first time I had visited beautiful Morgan Bay, and we ventured up the coast into the former Transkei for some sightseeing. At one point we deviated onto a very small dirt track (fortunately we had a 4x4 vehicle) and arrived at a small cove amongst the dunes. I noticed large areas of the beach were covered in a crust of shiny black sand which, when I picked it up, felt quite heavy.

The penny dropped: this was the heavy, titaniferous metal sand that is the subject of the recent judgement in the Xolobeni mining case, whereby the High Court ruled in favour of the customary Umgungundlovo community, who opposed the mining of the dunes to recover the heavy minerals.

Local is lekker: building a global mining supply chain from South Africa

Oh my goodness, it’s nearly Christmas! How the time flies when you are enjoying yourself. It’s year end and time to reflect, as well as to look forward to the New Year. 2018 has been a tumultuous year for the mining industry in South Africa, what with the appointment of a new President of South Africa, a new Minister of Mineral Resources, and a Mining Charter that we can work with as an industry.

Within the Charter is the key aspect of local procurement of capital goods, consumables, and services by and for the industry. This focus is aimed at stimulating the mining goods and services supply chain with the purpose of creating employment and export opportunities, with special emphasis on historically disadvantaged South Africans and communities, BEE credentials of suppliers, youth, and women in mining.

A new dawn for the mining industry?

As I sit here writing this President’s Corner, today’s dawn has brought with it the first real rains of the summer. I am reminded that the rain represents a blessing showered down upon us, and our country. Is this a blessing for our industry?

Much has changed for the mining industry over the last few months, or has it?

First, after the inauguration of the new President of South Africa, the promise of a ‘new dawn’ for South Africa and its peoples created a sense of euphoria, popularly described as ‘Ramaphoria’. Exactly what the new dawn will bring for us is not altogether clear, however. Sello Lediga, writing in the Daily Maverick on 7 May 2018, points to the following as four pillars that could assist the President in clarifying the concept, these being: 

Safety, health, and the environment through the eyes of MineSafe

It is an honour for the President of the Institute to write the President’s Corner note for the Journal, especially so when it is the first one after inauguration as President. It was indeed a great pleasure to present the story of research and development in the mining industry in South Africa in my Presidential Address at the AGM, and to be able to describe the journey so far that the Mandela Mining Precinct has travelled. The work of the Precinct has focused on the research and development of mining systems, of which health, safety and environmental topics are an essential component. What has become very clear, and flowing out of the Mining Phakisa in 2015, is the need for a collaborative approach in this research work.

Seeing the value of the SAIMM

Being the President of a professional organization like the SAIMM can be quite demanding. However, it’s not always stressful because there are quite a few pleasures and privileges that accompany the job. One of the significant pleasures is the interaction with members at all the numerous events that are organized by the Institute. Here you get to talk and listen to the views of the members on a number of issues facing the minerals industry. You get to hear all the good, the not so good, and the bad about the industry that we serve. You are always kept up to date, simply through that interaction with other professionals in the field. This is of significant value, especially considering how quickly technology is changing the minerals industry landscape.