'African exploration prospects high'

Minister Susan Shabangu says Africa's mineral development potential is unparalleled.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. Picture: Regan Thaw/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu says Africa's mineral development potential is unparalleled, but the continent remains grossly under-explored.

Addressing a ministerial symposium held behind closed doors at the annual Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday, Shabangu elaborated that the exploration expenditure per square meter averaged US$65 in Canada, Australia and Latin America, whereas the African equivalence remained below $5 per square kilometre.

"The mineral exploration prospect in Africa remains extremely high, requiring both local and international partners and investment to unearth. This necessitates responsible investment on the continent, not based on exploitative principles centred solely on expectations for unrealistic rates of returns that are disguised on the principle of high risk high return.

"As you know, mining is a long term investment and not about quick wins. Those who balance Africa's mineral development with growth will ultimately receive the greatest reward in the long term."

The minister added it was important for African mining development to be integrated and interlinked with its infrastructure development initiatives, such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) adopted by the African Union heads of states.

The programme, which is led by the African Union and chaired by President Jacob Zuma, seeks to integrate regional and continental infrastructure networks and services to improve intra-trade and promote socio-economic development in the continent.

"We also have to be cognisant of the fact that in order to effectively and comprehensively address the plight of the African continent, a gigantic shift and transformation in traditional mining jurisdictions is required.

"This should entail a shift from exporting of largely raw material to ensuring that minerals serve as a catalyst for accelerated industrialisation through mineral value-addition. This will also require development corridors that are a subject of multi-purpose infrastructure development."

She added that financing for the multi-purpose infrastructure development must not be a burden of one stakeholder at the expense of the other, as it has been the case on most mining jurisdictions in the past.

Shabangu said the continent's mining vision needed to be driven and led by Africans, who must ensure that mineral resources were exploited in an equitable manner.

The minister will deliver a keynote address to delegates at the Mining Indaba on Tuesday.

The four-day conference kicked off at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this morning.

Click here for a feature on the Investing in African Mining Indaba.