beneficiation industrial inputs mining

Beneficiate…but only when it is economic [Business Day column]

Producing more value-added industrial products, on the back of South Africa’s resources, remains a much-sought after policy goal. But it has been so for a while. In this column, I reflect on this policy challenge, after the national budget allocated R2.7bn to beneficiation projects.

FOR someone visiting the US for the first time, Chicago’s magnificent mile might not be the best place to start. Not because that wonderful city, or even that particular neighbourhood, is a terrible place. It just reinforces the stereotypes too easily with its wide avenues dripping with opulence. Browsing through iconic jewellery stores, my enchantment was tempered by the knowledge that SA might produce tons of gold and platinum, but it had no hand in the art and design before my eyes.

This was in the early 2000s and not much has changed since then. At that time, I worked for a gold miner and discussions over the new mining charter were heated. Beneficiation emerged as a stepchild of that process. Mining companies could offset some of their ownership obligations for spending on beneficiation projects. They spent some money on beneficiation projects, and continue to do so, but it would be hard to say that resource-based manufacturing took off.

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