A special economic zone (SEZ) that will be established in Mogwase, is expected to spur the mineral-rich North West province’s move towards greater mineral beneficiation and the manufacturing of mining equipment.
Speakers at an inaugural North West Mining Roundtable, held on Thursday, emphasised the importance of localisation, beneficiation and diversification of the mining sector in the province.
In line with its mandate of promoting economic growth and industrial development in South Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation partnered with the North West provincial government to host the roundtable event.
With mining dominating the provincial economy, and statistics showing that the sector contributed 32.5% to the provincial economy in 2018, speakers posited that mining still had potential to attract more investment, transform the economy, create jobs and add to the province’s development.
North West Premier Professor Job Mokgoro, in his State of the Province Address in June, announced that the province would be engaging the mining sector to partner with it to create more jobs and promote further development.
The Premier called for more processing of minerals extracted from the province, a move that was expected to boost job creation in a province with an unemployment rate of about 33%.
Given that the mining industry is depleting, with non-renewable resources, speakers emphasised the need to diversify and use minerals as a catalyst to build other sectors, to ensure a sustainable economic environment where mining activities are concentrated – as in the North West province.
It was highlighted that the mining industry in the province had to drive and build a manufacturing industry in the province – which the SEZ would facilitate.
The SEZ has identified three sectors – agroprocessing, manufacturing and mineral beneficiation – as its areas of focus.
It was indicated that an important consideration for Cabinet in awarding the SEZ licence would be the critical issue of commitment from government for the necessary bulk infrastructure.
However, owing to the current challenges it faces, government has acknowledged that it is unable to engender this alone and, therefore, emphasised the critical need to forge partnerships with mining houses and private entities.
Further, another important issue for Cabinet to consider is an investment pipeline, which was highlighted as critical in terms of the small, medium-sized and microenterprise strategy and engendering benefits from beneficiation for the local community in terms of meeting legislated local procurement requirements.
Source: Mining Weekly