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South Africa steps up efforts to beneficiate minerals

08 february 2012

South Africa, which is the world’s fourth top producer of diamonds by value has stepped up efforts to beneficiate its minerals.
The country’s Mineral Resources minister Susan Shabangu told a Mining Indaba that the beneficiation of South Africa’s minerals was a critical component of the industrial and economic development framework.
“It is the vehicle through which South Africa’s resource-based comparative advantage can be transformed into a national competitive advantage,” she said.
“To this end, a beneficiation strategy has been developed to maximize the returns from the exploitation of our mineral resources.”
Shabangu said that the beneficiation policy had identified five pilot mineral value chains.
These were iron ore and steel, energy, autocatalytic converters and diesel particulates, titanium, and the jewellery value chain.
She said that it was not South Africa’s intention to force mining companies into being manufacturers, but wanted to address the challenge of the inaccessibility of the country’s raw materials as an impediment to greater local beneficiation.
South Africa’s diamond beneficiation industry had a great potential, but remained significantly small due to poor access to rough diamonds and finance by small and medium-sized manufacturers.
The South African government said last year that it would also look to supplement the country's locally mined diamonds with stones from other African countries, such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, Shabangu reiterated that nationalisation was not a policy either of the ruling ANC or the government of South Africa.
“I welcome the fact that the report of the ANC’s Task Team on nationalisation has reinforced the ANC’s earlier decisions that nationalisation is not a viable policy for South Africa. This is not a surprise,” she said.

Mathew Nyaungwa, Rough&Polished, from Cape Town, South Africa