THE South African government’s Council for Geosciences (CGS) said it would like to have the first opportunity at developing mineral rights before making the geological information available to the public.
Speaking to Miningmx on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba conference on Wednesday, CEO of the council, Mosa Mabusa, said: “Before we send out the data, we have to look at it first and see if there are areas of opportunity for the lowest hanging fruit.
“I call it first mover advantage”.
In April last year, the department of mineral resources and energy (DMRE) of which the CGS is part published a five year exploration strategy aimed at capturing 5% of global exploration spend worth $900m. Mines minister Gwede Mantashe said CGS would contribute by opening up its data room.
Since amendments to the Geoscience Act in 2010, the CGS is allowed to participate in exploration activities and form partnerships, subject to the necessary approval of the DMRE and National Treasury.
Mabusa confirmed about 80km2 of land containing resources were added to Ivanplats, a platinum group metal project being developed by Canada’s Ivanhoe Mines using its data. The CGS didn’t demand a partnership with Ivanhoe.
Mabusa said partnerships wouldn’t always be formed when it released geological information, although some data would be sold for a nominal fee. “Geological data is the heritage of South Africans,” Mabusa said. “Every member of society may utilise our information.
“If it leads to the discovery of our minerals, imagine the returns to the fiscus and employment creation and other catalytic economic activities.”
In his keynote address on the first day of the Indaba, Gwede Mantashe, mines minister, gave his unequivocal support to the Council’s exploration ambitions. “We allow gave them the right to drill. Why? Because when an investor comes, we can say, this is the mineral and this is the quality.”
The DMRE and the CGS also applied to the National Treasury for a R500m exploration fund that will be administered by the Industrial Development Corporation to boost exploration activity in South Africa. The department also assigned the CGS as the permanent Secretariat of The Organisation of African Geological Surveys. A memorandum of understanding between the CGS and the OAGS was signed this past week to enable better cooperation between the different mining jurisdictions on the continent.
Mabuza said the R500m is not “a lot of money. I’m often asked why we asked for such a miniscule amount. But our sentiment was: give us a little money and allow us to demonstrate that geology can de-risk exploration and deliver success.
“Success breeds success. And as we turn this into massive deposits which will be of interest to South Africa and the world, we’ll have a very nice problem when the financial sector will want to be part of the solution and interested in exploration.”