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In this month’s article I want to update readers about two important aspects of the Institute – firstly, the launch of the new Botswana Branch, and secondly the Mineral Economics Division of the SAIMM.

SAIMM Botswana Branch

The process to set up a Branch in Botswana began in 2006. Alan Clegg, a Council member and the Chairperson of the Regional Branch Organizing Committee at the time, was instrumental in establishing and setting the process in motion. The Botswana Government requires professional societies such as ours to be registered with the Registrar of Societies. As with any process that has to be done from a distance without being able to visit the respective departments and people personally, this was quite a lengthy task and took a number of years before it was completed. In the meantime, James Arthur was elected as the Branch Chairperson. Although presentations were set up in four main centres, logistics were a problem due to the large geographical area which had to be covered. The Base Metals Conference, organized through the Technical Programme Committee: Metallurgy, was a highlight during 2008. It was held at the Mwana Lodge in Chobe.

James Arthur had to return to South Africa, and unfortunately there were no further activities planned.

Recently the SAIMM saw the need for a person who would grow the regional Branches, and in October 2014 we employed Malcolm Walker as Regional Development Manager. One of Malcolm’s first tasks was to speak to people in Botswana with a view to resuscitating the Branch. We soon realized that the Branch would need to be started afresh, and Malcolm went to Botswana to personally meet people in the industry and to see if there was an appetite for an SAIMM Branch.

In terms of By-law F, which guides the operation of Branches, twelve corporate members are required to submit a written request to the Council of the SAIMM for the establishment of a Branch. Members in Botswana were sent an e-mail to find out if they were interested and at least twenty responses were received. This was seen as a good sign, as there are 77 members of the SAIMM in Botswana.

After further planning and arrangements, it was agreed that the Branch would be launched in conjunction with a technical visit. This took place on 5 of June, when a visit to the Diamond Trading Company Botswana was arranged, coupled with the launch of the Botswana Branch and the election of the Committee. I am pleased to say that this went well, and a Chairperson and Committee were elected as follows: Chairperson – Len Dimbungu, Vice Chairperson – Andries Bester, Secretary – Craig Robertson, and three Committee Members – Michael Musonda, Omphile Ntabeni, and Wiesiek Masztalerz.

Malcolm and I also met with the Chairperson of the Botswana Chamber of Mines, Charles Siwawa, to discuss the registration process and the role that the SAIMM can play in the local industry. I am confident that with assistance from Charles and the enthusiasm of the Branch Committee, we will be arranging a number of technical presentations and conferences in Botswana.

The Mineral Economics Division

The Mineral Economics Division of the SAIMM was established to keep a watching brief on the changing nature of mining and its interface with the political economics of the resource-rich countries in Southern Africa. A workshop was held in February 2012 entitled ’Towards a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Critical Issues facing the Southern African Mining Industry’ to further examine and discuss these issues. A key component of the workshop was the session organized and led by Mike Solomon, the Chairperson of the Mineral Economics Division, on the rise of resource nationalism. This resulted in the publication of the report ’The Rise of Resource Nationalism: a Resurgence of State Control in an Era of Free Markets or the Legitimate Search for a New Equilibrium?’, which was subsequently presented at the Mining Indaba.

The dialogues came about as a direct result of a comprehensive, academically sound study consisting of an in-depth look into the issues related to state participation in the mining sector from a global and historical perspective. The objective was to inform national debate through rigorous and exhaustive research that would provide a platform for evidence-based dialogue.

Following the inaugural three-day dialogues hosted in 2012, Mining Dialogues 360° (MD360) produced a summary report of the key issues identified by the participants, which is available on their website ( The organization continued to engage with various constituencies, and in the wake of Marikana hosted further dialogues, mostly notably with key members from civil society organizations and the various church bodies that are active in the mining communities. The outcome of the one-day dialogue was a set of five key recommendations for King Leruo Molotlegi of the Royal Bafokeng (who provided much of the funding for the work) to present at a meeting of CEOs of the affected platinum companies. In 2013, the Mining Dialogues research team completed the first of a series of in-depth studies into the social and economic footprints of each of South Africa´s major mining sectors.

In addition, MD360 participated in think tanks hosted by other industry bodies and has forged co-operative alliances with the ICMM, the Centre for Sustainability in Mining, the Africa Futures Forum, the WEF Global Agenda Council, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs (also known as Chatham House).

A full merger of Mining for Change and MD360 took place in early 2014. The consolidation of these entities into a single streamlined platform created a strengthened organization with networks across the South African mining and regulatory sectors, with obvious benefits such as not competing for funding, more efficient staffing, and reduced management and overhead costs.

Mining Dialogues 360° is held under the auspices of the SAIMM and enjoys the support of the South African Chamber of Mines, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI), The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), the universities of the Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch, the World Economic Forum´s Mining and Minerals Council, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the mining industry, labour bodies, civil society organizations, government and related institutions, and the investment community. MD360 is a not-for-profit company (NPC) that operates with the support of grants and financial contributions.

Key milestones and achievements – 2010 to present

2010 - Research commissioned by the SAIMM and funded by the Royal Bafokeng into resource nationalism in the global context and issues in South Africa.

2011 - Produced an extensive, in-depth report titled ‘The Rise of Resource Nationalism: a Resurgence of State Control in an Era of Free Markets or the Legitimate Search for a New Equilibrium? A Study to Inform Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on State Participation in Mining’.

- February: the report is presented at the Mining Indaba to much acclaim from the industry, resulting in calls for the document to form the basis of focused dialogues on the issues.

2012 - April: Mining Dialogues 360 Degrees (MD360) is formed as a not-for-profit company.

- July: the inaugural 3-day meeting is held with the dialogues oversubscribed, and the participatory format was received exceptionally well by all stakeholders.

- A website was created to form an ongoing communications platform and central repository of information. The platform has been maintained and is updated on a daily basis.

- The final meeting report predicts a major industry disaster. Almost exactly one month later, Marikana erupts in August.

- October: in order to provide leadership to tackle the issues, MD360 calls a dialogue between 15 key participants from civil society and faith-based organizations. This think tank resulted in a five-point strategy for Kgosi Leruo to present at a meeting called with the platinum CEOs to identify and seek solutions to the crisis. The points are very well received but again, no action is taken by industry.

- November: Lonmin commissions MD360 to do a ‘deep-dive’ research piece on the social and economic footprint of the company at its North West operations.


- September: the report is completed.

- Other platinum companies show great interest in participating in the footprint exercise in order to create a wider view and understanding of the landscape.

- The independent recommendations of the research team are documented in a paper titled ‘A Platinum Compact’ and shared with the highest levels of government and key advisors, including Pravin Gordhan, Godfrey Oliphant, Musa Mabuza, Roger Baxter, and Gwede Mantashe.


- MD360 is approached by the Farlam Commission to assist with information relating to Lonmin. Due to an NDA signed with Lonmin, MD360 is limited in what can be shared with the commission. Judge Farlam subpoenas the report from Lonmin and it is widely quoted in the Phase 2 findings of Dr Kally Forrest.


- In light of the lack of progress with the government’s Framework for Sustainability in Mining agreement, and in response to numerous calls for an industry forum that is properly representative of all stakeholders (not just government, labour, and industry), MD360 has developed the terms of reference for a new three-year research work and dialogue programme.

- The programme has received the approval of the SAIMM and has the support of the ICMM, CSMI, the universities of the Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), and the World Economic Forum’s Mining and Minerals Council.

- The MD360 Board has appointed a new, influential and high-profile Advisory Council to oversee the programme and provide guidance on the issues.

- The Platinum Compact recommendations are under serious consideration by the Emergency Task Response Team for Mining under the oversight of Minister Radebe in the Office of the Presidency.

- The organization is currently engaged in fundraising to support the work programme and dialogues.

The above information is taken from the various documents available on MD360 and is therefore presented very factually. My own involvement has been as the Chairperson of the Advisory Council. I am committed to the work being done by MD360 and I encourage the industry to support the various initiatives. It is only by interested parties contributing to the discussions, and where possible funding the initiatives, that we will see a positive change in our industry. You are welcome to send your comments and questions to me so that we can continue meaningful debate.