6 DISTRICT ECONOMY MAIN SECTORS AND INFRASTRUCTURE Mining dominates the regional economy. Fully 71% of district GDP is generated by the mining sector, the result of a huge iron-ore complex at Sishen and a multi-mine manganese cluster 75km north of Kuruman in the Black Rock area. This reflects the enormous value that mining exports generate rather than presenting proof of a lack of other economic activity in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality. MAIN ECONOMIC SECTORS Although mining dominates because of Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen mine and Assmang’s Nchwaning and Gloria mines that produce manganese, the district is also home to established and successful farming and tourism operations. More than one variety of Boer goat is raised by farmers in the region and tourism accommodates hunters, tourists in search of luxury safaris and business travellers exploring opportunities in Kuruman and Kathu. Near Olifantshoek the phenomenon of “singing sands” can be experienced. In very dry conditions, grains of sand can be heard to hum as they rub together. San rock art paintings can also be viewed in the area. The establishment of the Sishen Solar Photovolatic Plant in the small town of Dibeng opened up a new sector in John Taolo Gaetsewe. There is scope for all of the sectors mentioned above to grow and the Kathu Industrial Park initiative promises to stimulate the growth of new sectors or industries that are currently quite small. Servicing and supplying the mining and solar power sectors are obvious examples of businesses that could thrive in the Kathu Industrial Park. The District is also home to several famous TV stars, although they are very shy. “Meerkat Manor” is a popular TV series that tracks the lives of Suricata suricatta who live in the Kuruman River Reserve near Vanzylsrus. The Kalahari Meerkat Project is the oldest and largest of the projects operating at the Kalahari Research Centre. Apart from providing entertainment for TV viewers, the project is invaluable as a source of information for a long-term research project. INFRASTRUCTURE Kuruman, the administrative capital of the district, is also at the centre of the road network that connects the various centres of the area. The N14 national highway connects in a north-easterly direction to Vryburg in the North West Province and beyond that, to Johannesburg. To the south-west on the N14 lies the large farming and trading centre, Upington. The R31 runs through Kuruman as well, linking the town to Hotazel and Vanzylrus to the north (and on to Namibia) and due south to Lime Acres and Douglas. The railway line that links Sishen to the export port at Saldanha is, at 861km, one of the longest heavy-haul lines in the world. Records have regularly been broken in terms of the longest and heaviest trains put together on this line, a vital link to the outside world for the miners on of the Northern Cape. Two of the five campuses of the Northern Cape Rural TVET College are in the district, at Kathu and Kuruman.
7 BUSINESS AND INVESTMENT Valuable land, above and below the ground Outstanding companies are thriving in luxury tourism, heavy mining and goat farming. The harsh landscape of the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality has not stopped enterprising businesses from competing with the best in their sectors. Successful and sustainable business in the area include: TOURISM The area south-east of Vanzylsrus and south-west of Hotazel is a long way from anywhere, and that’s one of the reasons why the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is so special as a destination for tourists wanting to experience open spaces and undisturbed wildlife. Containing as it does several types of landscape, from the Korannaberg mountains to the southern Kalahari’s typical arid savannah and ochre dunes, the largest privately protected area in South Africa covers 114 000 hectares. With a maximum of 40 guests staying in three luxury safari camps, Tswalu is able to pursue its ambitious conservation goals of safeguarding habitats and restoring biodiversity. Not only is the reserve home to a large population of black rhino, but it also hosts other threatened species such as the pangolin and African wild dog. A remarkable 83 species of butterflies have been spotted on the reserve, the latest sighting being the Pale Ciliate Blue. MINING Iron-ore mining operations started at Sishen in 1953 and expanded rapidly after the Sishen-Saldanha rail link was completed, enabling vast quantities of iron ore to be exported. Kumba Iron Ore, an Anglo American company, holds the majority share in and manages Sishen Iron Ore Company Proprietary Limited (SIOC). The other shareholders are Exxaro Resources and the SIOC Community Development Trust. An onsite beneficiation plant crushes, screens and beneficiates through dense media separation and jig technology The 14km-long open-cast mine feeds the largest jig plant of its kind in the world. In 2022, the mine produced 22-million tons. Together with its other mines, Kumba Iron Ore is the largest iron-ore producer in Africa. The mine is one of the province’s biggest employers and the company spent R5.4-billion with host-community suppliers in 2022. AGRICULTURE Having started life as a co-operative in 1942, KLK is now a multifaceted agricultural company that trades in agricultural goods, building materials, fuels, meat, hides and skins, as well as the packaging and export of raisins. Dibeng, Hotazel, Olifantshoek and Kuruman have KLK retail outlets. Kuruman also hosts a Build It franchise while Kathu has a Build It and a KLK Pet World. KLK owns a feedlot and abattoirs, conducts auctions, runs 11 petrol stations and has a finance division. Boer-goat farming is very popular in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District. Dorper skins are prepared for the Italian fashion market and hides are processed for the motor vehicle industry. In May 2023 KLK acquired the last 20% share in Carpe Diem Raisins and it now owns 100%. Agricultural company Senwes is the majority shareholder of KLK.