Re-engaging the Mining Industry: Reflections

“Small and Medium Business Enterprises tend to look at short time growth of their investments for economical independence. They should however lift their heads to the horizon and choose the right path to benefit from in the future.”

This was the message of Heinrich Müller, technical and mining adviser for the Thabazimbi Chamber of Commerce, speaking at the latest network session of the Chamber held on 12 June.

His message was a feedback on what has happened since the previous network session where he encouraged stakeholders to engage in actions which involve their property or business in the developing mining scenario in the Thabazimbi district.

Mining, followed by tourism and agriculture, are the main components of the Thabazimbi economy. Müller mentioned that mining, although regarded as an *unwanted industry, is in fact not the most disruptive, as the top position goes to agriculture as the industry which occupies the most, and is the most disruptive to surface land.

We need food and agreeable, mining is disruptive to tourism in terms of its visual component. This is where a compromise should be reached between these activities. This is also the reason why stakeholders should get involved at meetings held by applicants of mining right. The saying still stands – “If you can’t grow it, mine it,” showing the delicate balance between agriculture and the mining industry.

Müller again referred to the global commodity prices of mining companies, which are at its lowest for the forgoing 50 years. As these commodities tend to run in a 50 year cycle, he predicted that we are at the point where they should be starting to move upwards, and should show signs of revival within the next 12 to 18 months.

In terms of the economic growth and creation of work opportunities in South Africa, statistics have shown that there are nine beneficiaries to every job created on the mines. Therefore mining forms a integral part in job creation.

Coal, chrome and iron ore are the three most important commodities at this stage and Thabazimbi is ideally positioned with abundance of these commodities within its reach due to the Bushveld Settlement Complex as well as the availability of coal in Lephalale. Add to this the Platinum Group of Minerals, which includes platinum, gold as well as an abundance of other minerals which could be extracted from the ore already being mined in the Thabazimbi area.

The availability of other minerals like tin and lead as well as the gold and diamonds, not being produced by the mines involved in extracting the PGM minerals, is also widespread in the Thabazimbi district.

South Africa is dominated by the major mining companies of which Anglo and Northam Platinum are the most prominent in our area, unlike overseas where there are dozens of minor exploration companies, doing the initial drilling and obtaining mining rights in the hope that one of the big mining companies might get interested in buying their mining rights.

He mentioned that since the last meeting of the chamber, a little more than a month ago, six more of these minor mining companies have joined the existing nine which were already active at that stage in the vicinity of Thabazimbi, bringing it to a total of 15 minor companies.

Of these a company by the name of Arengo Mining is the most aggressive and is not waiting for the stakeholders to keep up with them. (Refer www.kwevoel.co.za – Notices 13 April 2019 Application of Mining Right, where Arengo 297 Pty(Ltd) applied for mining rights for the following: Diamonds, gold, PGM, arsenic, chrome, cobalt, copper, mercury, nickel, silver, zinc and iron).

How many stakeholders did the effort to register? was the question Müller put to chamber members. All local business are stakeholders as these actions might affect their line of business as it could have social economic effects on the community.

Should they eventually start mining on your property, they are obligated to keep you updated of their activities. By that time lots of water will be lost under the bridge and you, as stakeholder, would have lost out on the chance of giving your inputs and assured that you do not get the raw end of the deal.

This should be enough proof that mining activity is picking up in this region, he mentioned, as apparently a vast area from Thabazimbi up to the Limpopo basin is already affected by applications for mining right. Applications for water licenses must be submitted with these applications and is so much more reason for stakeholders to get involved.

As a single business it will be difficult to approach the mining companies as a stakeholder, but if businesses should combine force to approach these mining companies as one entity through the chamber, they can combine the business and social sectors, with the help of advisors, which are familier in the terms being used during these discussions, to ensure that the message being send and the negotiations being made, carries the concern and the mutual support of both sides. This is one of the main reasons why Heinrich Müller opted to get involved in sharing his knowledge with the Thabazimbi Chamber of Commerce.

With Thabazimbi within a radius of about 150km from the Rustenburg mines, carrying it through to the Springbokvlakte, Bela-Bela, Lephalale, Rooiberg, Steenbokpan, Dwaalboom and Sentrum, can become the hub, in the support of mining activity. He also asked the question: “Is the social and business community fully engaged with the mining sector?”

Apart from that, Thabazimbi, as mining town, still have a lot of retired mining expertise who knows the local mining conditions residing in Thabazimbi, and who can be utilized locally instead of importing advisors from Gauteng.

Müller said that this should be seen as a net to catch al the opportunities of building the economy of Thabazimbi and not allowing anything to slip through. More money being available locally will draw in more tourists and being suppliers to the mines, the business sector will score by keeping the money in Thabazimbi instead of being spent in the major sentra.

This will also give the opportunity to local business to support their society by sending their younger generation to obtain skills as well as encouraging them to obtain higher qualifications.

Every mining or exploration company is forced by law to participate in public meetings to draw in the local communities affected by their proposed operations.

Müller implored the business community to become the custodians in what is happening in this region by becoming fully active in the whole process.

“Do not adhere only to your individual interest, but take the whole impact on the town also into consideration. This what we do now will have a long and sustained influence on the whole town.”

At the network session it was also mentioned that there are a number of projects, initiated by the European Union, Anglo as well as Kumba, through their local development projects where you can get involved.

Contact Thabazimbi Chamber of Commerce for more detail about these projects.

* (Municipal by-laws also include a brick factory to the list of unwanted industries. A printing shop must get special permission to operate within a residential area – RED. Any business, being a member of Thabazimbi Chamber of Commerce, sharing this article within the next week is entitled to a free advertisement in the Kwêvoël Newsletter for one week. No conditions apply, although this does not include the free boost payable to Facebook: – Send advertorial, photo of business premises as well as an advertisement in A5, A4 or A3 format in JPEG or PDF together with a screenshot of this posting’s feature image on www.facebook.com/kwevoel to kwevoel@kwevoel.co.za).
For more information, contact the author of this article – Pieter Coetzee – at 082 890 4718 or at the mentioned e-mail address.