ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION, DR BLADE NZIMANDE ON THE OCCASION OF THE INVESTING IN AFRICAN MINING INDABA 9 May 2022, CAPE TOWN

Programme Director

Your Excellencies present;

South Africa Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr Gwede Mantashe;

Ministers and Deputy Minister present;

The Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Mr Geordin Hills-Lewis;

Invited Speakers;

Captains of the Mining Industry;

Labour unions;

Investors;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen

 

It is a great pleasure for me to join you today on the occasion of the investing in Africa Mining Indaba. 

 

As a department, we are grateful for the decision taken by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to invite us to participate in this single largest mining event in Africa which brings together visionaries and innovators across the entire mining value chain under one roof.

 

This occasion is also important to us as the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation because it supports education, career development, sustainable development and other important causes in Africa.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

The Mining industry is a vital part of South Africa’s pursuit for faster, inclusive and sustainable growth in order to increase employment and achieve a more inclusive and equal society.

 

In this context, this Indaba is an important platform for advancing and realising these objectives.

 

South Africa, like the rest of the Africa continent, boasts a substantial industrial mineral endowment.

According to the World Bank and the World Economic Forum (WEF), mining remains Africa’s most strategic sector, with roughly half of the world’s platinum, vanadium and diamonds are from the continent in addition to about 36% of gold and 20% of cobalt.

 

In order to ensure that growth and sustainability of this industry, as the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI’s) through our White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation, we have positioned the South Africa National System of Innovation as an enabler to increase the contribution of science, technology and innovation (STI) to address South Africa’s development challenges.

 

This is done through a number of policy shifts, including accelerated inclusivity, transformation and linkages in the National System of Innovation.

 

Our Department of Science and Innovation together with industry and trade unions, we established the Mandela Mining Precinct to deal with mining research in South Africa (MMP).

 

Hosted jointly by the Minerals Council South Africa and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Mandela Mining Precinct seeks to revitalise mining research, development and innovation in South Africa to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

 

Through this partnership we developed the South African Mining Extraction Research, Development and Innovation (SAMERDI) strategy, which is aimed at materially improving the technological base of mining in South Africa.

 

To date, my Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has made an investment of R226 005 600 to the activities of SAMERDI.

 

Through the SAMERDI strategy and its associated activities, amongst others:-

 

  • We developed project charters and journey maps for each research area;

 

  • We developed the RDI networks and partnerships with universities;

 

  • We facilitated the Isidingo Drill Challenge, from which two new rock drill prototypes, which are easier to operate with improved environmental and operator benefits;

 

  • We launched the Technology Availability and Readiness Atlas (TARA) which provides one nodal point for South African developed and manufactured mining equipment;

 

  • We developed and launch of the National Gold (Au) and Platinum Resource Atlas;  and

 

  • We also hosted the inaugural Mandela Mining Precinct Symposium.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

We all agree that the modernisation of the African mining industry is a necessity and important in growing the mining industry and for job creation.

 

This is the reason that  as South Africa, through the SAMERDI Strategy, we are providing the roadmap on how to work together to develop technological solutions that will contribute towards the survival of this industry. 

 

We are well aware that modernisation is not just about innovation, new technologies, mechanisation and automated processes, but a collaborative effort of partnership that must be established with employees, government, unions and NGOs.

 

Therefore, the issue of revolutionising the skilling profile of the mining sector is critical.

 

This is the reason that we further established the SAMERDI Research Centres at our partner universities to make meaningful contribution towards developing human capabilities and a new generation of mining focused researchers. 

 

The Mandela Mining Precinct also house the Mining Equipment Manufacturers of South Africa (MEMSA), which is an equipment-focused industry body with linkages to the mining RDI programme. 

 

Our sister department, the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (dtic) over the past two year funded it with about R8 million. 

 

The aim of MEMSA is to position South African mining capital goods manufacturers as a world-class competitive, innovative, dynamic and transformative industrial cluster.

 

As the Department of Science and Innovation, we provided support to MEMSA members in the form of Technology Assistance Packages through the Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU).

 

We will also be undertaking the following action plans to further support MEMSA:

 

  • We will be updating the SAMERDI strategy to incorporate aspects on environment and climate change; Socio-economic and Governance (ESG) linked to mining modernisation, which includes technology and innovation;

 

  • We will be launching the SAMERDI research centres at three universities (Wits; University of Pretoria and University of Johannesburg) – which is aimed to develop human capability in the SAMERDI thematic areas of (i) Longevity of Current Mining (ii) Mechanised Mining Systems (iii) Advanced Orebody Knowledge (iv) Real Time Information Management Systems and (v) Successful Application of Technologies Centred Around People and finally;

 

  • We will be formalising arrangements towards the establishment of a test mine – a key underground facility which will enable mining equipment manufacturers to test and qualify their equipment in a real mining environment.

 

As a Department of Science and Innovation, we further fund RDI along the minerals value chain, with possible economic impacts relating to new economic activity, industrial development, development of local firms and the overall improved competitiveness of the South Africa mining sector.

 

In 2006 our science councils, which comprises of the CSIR, Mintek and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), established the Advanced Materials Initiative (AMI) to add value to South Africa's minerals. 

 

Through AMI, we will increase the downstream value-addition of local advanced metals in a sustainable manner through industry relevant RDI, technology transfer and ultimately commercialisation. 

 

AIM has four (4) networks which includes light metals, precious metals, nuclear materials and ferrous and base metals.

 

Amongst the noteworthy activities associated with AMI are the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Program (AMP) and the implementation of the South African Platinum Group Metals Roadmap.

 

The Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Program (AMP) aims to revitalise the existing Aluminium industry to ensure the establishment of new industries using the established Titanium Centre of Competence (TiCoC) and the implementation of the South African Platinum Group Metals Roadmap as an anchor of the Hydrogen Society Roadmap, of which the Platinum Group Metals forms an integral part.

 

Through the survey by stakeholders in the Platinum Group Metals (PGM) Industry, we identified the top six (6) applications that we will focus on for PGM beneficiation in South Africa.

 

They include:-

 

  • Hydrogen Economy (fuel cells, hydrogen production);
  • Catalysts (automotive and other);
  • Batteries (battery storage, solar photovoltaics, lithium sulphur batteries and lithium ion batteries);
  • Recycling (hydrometallurgical or pyrometallurgical processes);
  • Additive manufacturing and powder metallurgy (industrial and jewellery); and
  • Medical/biomedical (cancer drugs, neuromodulation devices, pacemakers, diagnostic instruments, catheters, defibrillators, stents, surgical equipment, alloys).

 

Through the Hydrogen Society Roadmap (HSRM) we furthermore identified the role that PGMs will play as input materials into the Hydrogen Economy.

 

The launch of the world’s biggest hydrogen truck by Anglo American Platinum at the Mogalakwena Mine in Limpopo on 6th  May 2022, is an indication of the potential that South Africa has to become a significant global player in the Hydrogen Economy.

 

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is collaborating with Anglo American Platinum, Engie and Bambili Energy in implementing this Platinum Valley Project which focuses on the conversion of diesel trucks and buses to hydrogen power, as well as industrial applications of green hydrogen along the corridor from Limpopo to Durban, through Pretoria and Johannesburg.

 

We have also identified the CoalCO2-X project as another catalytic project in the Hydrogen Society Roadmap (HSRM).

 

This project involves the capturing of flue gas from coal-fired boilers and combining them with green hydrogen to make value added products such as green ammonia and fertiliser salts.

 

The project demonstrates the link between the existing coal sector and the Hydrogen Economy, paving the way for a responsible and just transition of existing sectors, with benefits of improved air quality and new economic value chains for coal mining towns.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

Since 2011, the DSI supported the development of electrode materials and manufacturing capabilities for lithium ion batteries (LIBs) in response to the growing global demand for lithium ion batteries (LIBs) for the energy storage and electric vehicle markets. 

 

In addition, this programme provided an opportunity to beneficiate manganese and other key battery minerals such as cobalt, nickel and lithium available in South Africa and neighbouring countries within the SADC region. 

 

We continue to implement this programme through universities and science councils across South Africa which include Anode material development at the CSIR; Material modelling and precursor material development at the University of Limpopo (UL).

 

We are also developing the fluorination and performance enhancement of precursor material as well as electrolyte at the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA).

 

We are also piloting the production of cells and batteries at the University of the Western Cape  and battery testing at the Nelson Mandela University in Gqeberha. 

 

To date, as the Department of Science and Innovation, we have invested in excess of R85 million in the establishment of the precursor material facility hosted by the University of Limpopo; a pilot facility for production of lithium ion batteries at the University of the Western Cape and a battery testing and certification facility at Nelson Mandela University. 

 

Through this investment, we are partnering with the private sector to train unemployed TVET graduates, generate intellectual property and knowledge for the local production of batteries.

 

This will go a long way to position South Africa to benefit from the growing demand for lithium ion batteries (LIBs) in the energy storage and electric vehicle markets, as well as enable government to implement the Minerals Beneficiation Master Plan.

 

In conclusion ladies and gentlemen

 

I must indicate that the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is opened for engagements and partnering in the advancement of the South Africa government transformation agenda and economic development using science, technology and innovation.

 

We also want to ensure that more black youth, females and people living with disabilities are integrated in this important economic sector, not only as employees but as employers and potential entrepreneurs in the mining value chain.

 

We will certainly engage further with the resolutions of this Indaba and continue to have individual and collective engagements with all potential partners and associates.

 

Let me take this opportunity to thank my Colleagues Minister Mantashe, the organisers of this Indaba, all the speakers and all delegates attending this Indaba.

 

I wish you successful deliberations.

 

Thank you

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