The buzz word at the 2022 edition of Cape Town South Africa’s Mining Indaba is Beneficiation. Beneficiation, or value-added processing, involves the transformation of a primary material (produced by mining and extraction processes) to a more finished product, which has a higher export sales value. All the three heads of state that have spoken at the event have echoed its importance for their countries when it comes to reaping more benefits from mining.
On day one of the Indaba, the Presidents of Zambia and Botswana spoke at length about the importance of building on the value chains, locally, of the mining sector. Key to this is investment that would see raw ore being processed.
On the day two of the Indaba, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed his counterparts’ sentiments and extended the argument to include issues of stable and predictable regulation that would help attract the necessary investment to achieve it.
However, what is clear from all the Heads of State is that all stakeholders on either side of the economic equation be in providing services, capital, labour must be on the same page and play their roles accordingly.
Furthermore, it only becomes sustainable when labour and the communities around labour are rewarded accordingly. Value Chains may be narrow in scope but is the supporting structures that extend the influence that ensures sustainability. Hence the need for equity not only internally but externally as well.
It is no doubt that with recent announcements such as the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Congo DRC and Zambia a fortnight ago will mark the beginning of actualization of beneficiation.
Furthermore, there will be need to invest in local labour with the necessary skills required to participate. Processing techniques often require more sophisticated skill sets that are inspired by educational levels of a population. Furthermore, the balance act of on boarding technology becomes prudent has many governments in Africa wish to protect jobs while creating them in tandem with technology embracing.