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Opportunity Issue 104

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

MINING High-intensity

MINING High-intensity mapping is attracting major investments to South Africa Council for Geoscience CEO, Mosa Mabuza, is upbeat about the country’s mining potential, based on new finds being unearthed by scientists. Mosa Mabusa, Council for Geoscience CEO After qualifying as a geologist from Wits University, Mosa held various positions at De Beers and Anglo American and worked in jurisdictions as varied as West Africa and Canada. From his appointment as the Director of Mineral Economics in the former Department of Minerals and Energy, he was promoted to Deputy Director-General of Mineral Policies and (Investment) Promotion in 2012. He has been CEO of CGS since 2017. What are some of the major goals of the Council for Geoscience? We have neglected geology in South Africa for the past four or five decades. Our predecessors did a fantastic job of conducting geoscience research but, for the past three, four, maybe five decades we have neglected this work in South Africa. The correlation between what our forebears did geologically and the major discoveries that were made, these things go hand-in-glove. Unfortunately, we have not built on their work. Previously, we were mining gold; we were excavating deeper and deeper. Merensky found the Bushveld Complex and we knew about the manganese fields and the iron-ore fields. Other than those traditional mines, the geology of South Africa remains untouched, in my view. Because we have not continued the excellent work of our forebears, a huge gap in exploration has been created. In fact, we seem not to have made any progress over the last two decades. We used to have 10% share of the global exploration expenditure budget annually. However, nowadays, we are sitting below 1%. The Minister has assured me that cabinet has expressed a renewed commitment to investing in the geosciences. Therefore, we have set ourselves the target of working towards achieving a minimum of 5% of the global exploration spend. What are some of the broader economic implications for exploration arising from surveys conducted by the Council for Geoscience? I imagine that one of the most important results is the amplification of the national mining industry’s contribution in supporting agriculture. Hopefully, we can lower the cost of fertilisers and make farmers more successful. Exploration must target the right minerals to support food security and health. What is the significance of the new mapping undertaken by the Council for Geoscience? Higher-intensity mapping provides much clearer and detailed information, enabling the exploration community to make informed investment decisions. 26 |

We have always known about the pegmatite rocks in the Northern Cape. Pegmatite is a lithium-bearing rock and possibly hosts other rare earth elements. With mapping at this scale, we can confirm that we will extend coverage of pegmatites by a further 67%. The Council for Geoscience published a map in March 2022 presenting these critical minerals as a new focus area for investors. We presented the data as a test case to demonstrate that money that goes into geoscience should not be regarded as a cost centre – it is an investment. Has Council for Geoscience work attracted investment? Regarding the pegmatites I spoke about earlier, since the beginning of the project and following the publication of the map, the DMRE has received hundreds of applications for prospecting rights in that area. These applications were directly triggered by the discovery and, ultimately, the publication of the work that we carried out in that area. If we accept that an average prospecting right amounts to around R5-million, I would argue that the work of the Council for Geoscience has triggered several billion rands in investment from people who are looking for lithium and other critical minerals. So mining might be revitalised? Notwithstanding our 150 years of mining, South Africa’s mining industry has not even begun! I am hoping that the Council for Geoscience will help South Africa to properly develop into a new and world-class mining jurisdiction. Are there other hotspots besides the Northern Cape? In the Northern Cape we know that there are abundant base metals, rare earth elements (REEs), iron ore and manganese. In the North West Province we have discovered phosphate which is critical, not only in the production of phosphoric acid but also for other investor applications. We are aware of abundant fluorspar, which has application in fertiliser manufacture which will contribute to food security. In Limpopo Province, we are looking at gold and magnesium. Have those minerals occurred in these areas before? We know that gold is often encountered in Barberton greenstonebelt type rocks, so we are investigating whether there is economic mineralisation potential. Accordingly, we have identified targets and have commenced drilling. In KwaZulu-Natal we have discovered incredible finds. There are rare earth elements and we think that there are as yet unconfirmed prospects for base metals. So, are you upbeat about prospects in general? These discoveries are really positive and I am optimistic about future prospects. That said, we can’t change what is in the ground. Our role is to test what is there. There are even better possibilities in provinces that we had always thought did not have much mineralisation. In the Eastern Cape we are testing a nickel and copper prospect as well as rare earth elements. If we are successful, this will change how we look at the Eastern Cape. New mineral discoveries are being made in many parts of South Africa. The proximity of the area to ports makes it even more attractive to prospective investors and developers. We are also looking at mineral potential and water security in the Western Cape. Recently, when Cape Town was hurtling towards Day Zero, this was national disaster. We need to start planning well in advance to avert future crises. Politics must be taken out of the equation, as we as scientists don’t like that space. So how do geoscience and Day Zero come together in terms of aquifers and that sort of thing? We are looking at characterising and better understanding aquifers and their potential so that we can begin to plan the water infrastructure of municipal and provincial authorities for a more sustainable approach to water management. We need, where possible to help them augment their water supply. To give people the information they need to formulate policies? To make developmental decisions. Our job is to use the science as a basis for informed policy and human development choices. That is our job. But we don’t make decisions for authorities, we can only come to the Minister, MEC or mayor and say, we have done this work and here is what it says and these are the options that you have. Can you give me an example? Our focus is on infrastructure and land use work that has historically or recently not been given sufficient consideration in infrastructure development. We supported Eskom with a probabilistic seismic hazard assessment study for the application of the extension of Koeberg nuclear power plant. We are working on groundwater and modelling to obtain a much better understanding of groundwater as a national asset and how to use it to augment water supply. | 27

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