Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Transportation, energy crucial in mineral beneficiation – Tralac

Transportation can provide a key role in the beneficiation of the minerals resources in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, a body that builds trade law and policy capacity in east and southern Africa has said in a new paper.

The paper authored by tralac or Trade Law Centre researcher, William Mwanza tilted “Mineral Beneficiation and Regional Governance of Investment in SADC”, noted that efficacy of beneficiation and value addition of mineral resources has been accepted as a viable option and has been prioritised in SADC’s industrialisation policy dialogue.

“As with most other areas of industrial policy, it is an endeavour that is primarily within the precincts of national Governments, who would want to exploit natural resources for national development,” wrote Mwanza.

However, he said the industrialisation strategy and road map acknowledges that a blanket approach to beneficiation and value addition across all mineral resource sectors is not advisable.

“This strategy would be most workable in resource sectors that a country can be seen to develop a competitive advantage in. Though the effects vary across sectors, such competitive advantage is bolstered by factors such as transport infrastructure, proximity to demand, access to raw materials, and the cost of energy”.

Mwanza said this scenario makes the role of regional frameworks more pertinent for beneficiation and value addition within national locations.

“For example, regional transport and energy networks can go a long way in influencing locational decisions by investors based on raw materials and proximity to markets. In this regard, the SADC Regional Infrastructural Development Master Plan (RIDMP) has been identified as instrumental for such regional connectivity. Going forward, efforts will have to ensure that infrastructural projects that can service current and potential mining projects across the region are well addressed in this arrangement.”

Botswana is one of the several countries endowed with natural resources, but has not been bold in its beneficiation drive. The only minerals that have seen these development are diamonds as De Beers agreed to move downstream industries to Botswana, although the sector is now having its own problems leading to retrenchments.

Mwanza said in his paper that apart from infrastructure, other aspects that are important for effective development of the mining sector through beneficiation and value addition include tax laws and incentives, requisite skills in different areas, research and development and innovation, financing instruments, and transparency initiatives among others.

The SADC Protocol on Mining, which entered into force in 2000, exists to play this function. This Protocol is currently being reviewed to reflect the current thinking around exploitation of mineral resources in the region.

This Protocol is currently being reviewed to reflect the current thinking around exploitation of mineral resources in the region. Apart from this review process, the Southern Africa Resource Barometer has also been formulated by the Southern Africa Resource Watch in partnership with the SADC Parliamentary Forum.

SADC recently held Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government that was held on April 29 in Zimbabwe. The meeting was held under the theme theme “Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable, Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition”.

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