Photo: Minerals Council South Africa

South Africa, home to the world’s biggest deposits of a number of minerals, has set an annual target of attracting $900 million of mining exploration expenditure annually by 2025.

The target, equivalent to 5% of the annual spend on exploration globally, is expected to kick start a mining industry, that while among the world’s biggest, has stagnated in recent years.

The exploration strategy made public Tuesday by the Department of Minerals and Energy, aims to take advantage of South Africa’s comparatively advanced infrastructure and mining expertise. It also plans to shrug off the country’s historical dependence on gold to focus instead on metals used in electric vehicles, battery storage and the production of hydrogen.

“With the declining gold resources, the appeal of the South African mining industry lies in the minerals of the future,” the department said in the document.

Gold dominance

While South Africa was the world’s biggest producer of gold for decades, production has slumped as its deposits get deeper and more expensive to access.

Still, the country has the world’s biggest deposits of platinum group metals, battery metal vanadium, chrome and manganese.

Challenges include poor policy implementation, poor geoscientific data, insufficient electricity generation, frequent strikes and community unrest, according to the document.

Among initiatives to boost exploration, the country aims to improve the data on its mineral deposits and give more technical support to small mining companies.

While the Department of Minerals and Energy didn’t say how much exploration is currently carried out in the country, News24, a South African news site, said it accounted for less than 1% of the annual expenditure on searching for minerals.

While the document was made public Tuesday, it’s dated August 2021.

Glencore Plc, Anglo American Plc and Rio Tinto Group operate in South Africa.

(By Antony Sguazzin)

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