In February 2023, the Investing in African Mining Indaba set the stage for a collaborative series of Just Energy Transition (JET) roundtable sessions. Co-hosted by key industry players including Anglo American, the Presidential Climate Commission of South Africa (PCC), the African Climate Foundation, Sasol, the Minerals Council of South Africa (MinCoSA), and later joined by the National Business Initiative (NBI), these dialogues aimed not only to catalyse collaboration but also to chart a course towards a just and sustainable future for the mining sector.
Fast forward to February 2024, and the outcomes of these dialogues can be shared alongside the Mining Indaba 2024. As the spotlight shifts towards the Just Transition, the potential for South Africa’s mining sector to play a pivotal role towards a net-zero, inclusive, and thriving economy becomes increasingly apparent and necessary.
The outcomes of the first roundtable dialogue shed light on several aspects to the role that the mining sector can play in supporting a truly inclusive and sustainable Just Energy Transition in South Africa. Unlocking financing from diverse sources emerged as critical, alongside providing accessible skilling and re-skilling opportunities, fostering SMME growth and economy diversification, enhancing community development, and addressing regulatory hurdles.
Additionally, South Africa is endowed with rich steel deposits and some critical mineral deposits. With the global push towards a Just Energy Transition gaining momentum, developing coherent and sustainable strategies for how these resources are extracted, beneficiated and traded becomes paramount. There is also great potential for South Africa to build and expand local green industry with these minerals but much work needs to be done to quantify and map these resources. Thus, the development of a comprehensive Critical Minerals Strategy is necessary to navigate this opportunity sustainably and inclusively.
The second roundtable dialogue featured experts and industry stakeholders from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMRE), Mintek, MinCoSA, PCC, Anglo American, Sasol, NBI, Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) and the African Climate Foundation (ACF). This dialogue contributed to the ongoing process of formulating a Critical Minerals Strategy for South Africa, currently spearheaded by the DMRE with contributions by MinCoSA and Mintek. Key inputs emerged around what should be considered when developing a Critical Minerals Strategy for the country emerged – emphasizing the importance of taking a science-based approach, ensuring alignment with existing masterplans, and encouraging the development of strategic partnerships.
Amidst this transition, the focus on job creation remains paramount. Deliberate policies must be crafted to bridge gaps between sectors, ensuring a smooth transition for workers into emerging industries.
Taking a more regional view, Africa’s potential as a major producer for critical and green minerals cannot be overstated. However, navigating this landscape requires caution to avoid exploitation while leveraging these resources to fuel green industrialisation and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Collaboration across borders and sectors will be instrumental in harnessing Africa’s mineral wealth for the collective benefit of its people.
As African nations gear up to meet the rising demand for critical minerals, it is imperative that we pave the way forward with foresight, collaboration, and a steadfast commitment to sustainability and inclusivity.
Read the full report here.