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Business Law Focus

PODCAST | What’s needed to get SA’s mining exploration investment on track

Evan Pickworth interviews Andries Myburgh and Ntebaleng Sekabate, executives at ENS

16 May 2022 - 18:09 By Evan Pickworth
SA'’s exploration budget has seen a decrease from $400m in 2007 to under $100m in 2018, with its share of global exploration budgets decreasing to about 1%. Picture: 123RF/DAVID LOPEZ
SA'’s exploration budget has seen a decrease from $400m in 2007 to under $100m in 2018, with its share of global exploration budgets decreasing to about 1%. Picture: 123RF/DAVID LOPEZ

In this edition of Business Law Focus host Evan Pickworth interviews ENS executives Andries Myburgh and Ntebaleng Sekabate on the opportunities and threats relating to mining exploration and specifically the urgent need for improved incentives to enhance investment. They speak at the conclusion of the recent African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

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In April 2022 the department of mineral resources & energy (DMRE) published the “Exploration Strategy for the Mining Industry of South Africa”, outlining the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relating to mining exploration, and the strategic initiatives to encourage mining exploration.

Business Day law and tax editor Evan Pickworth. Picture: REBECCA HEARFIELD
Business Day law and tax editor Evan Pickworth. Picture: REBECCA HEARFIELD

Unsurprisingly, one of the strengths of SA’s mining industry identified by the DMRE is the country’s mineral endowments, as well as the range of such minerals. Equally unsurprising, the weaknesses identified include energy instability, road and rail infrastructure challenges, as well as unsatisfactory policy implementation. These identified weaknesses appear not to have gone unnoticed by investors, as SA’s exploration budget has seen a decrease from $400m in 2007 to under $100m in 2018, with its share of global exploration budgets decreasing to about 1%.

To capitalise on the country’s mineral wealth, the DMRE has outlined strategic initiatives and actions to be undertaken to encourage mining exploration. These include improvements in the country’s geoscience data and information, government support to junior exploration companies and the formation of private-public partnerships with junior exploration companies, and a national investment drive.

The vision espoused by the strategy document is to secure a minimum of a 5% share in global exploration investment within a five-year period. This would be an impressive feat indeed, as SA would arguably be required to drastically improve its attractiveness, or perceptions of its attractiveness, as a mining destination to achieve the desired 4% increase in its share of global exploration investment.

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