Council for Mineral Technology (Mintek) & Council for Geosciences Strategic Plans 2013

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Mineral Resources and Energy

11 June 2013
Chairperson: Ms F Bikani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Council for Mineral Technology had the core business activities of conducting research and development into mineral processing technologies and promoting mineral based economies.  International cutbacks in mining were affecting the amount of business being done.  The Council was trying to balance its work on behalf of the state with commercial projects.  There was a strong focus on the academic development of employees.  The Council was financially sound.  The Council was involved with the rehabilitation of derelict mines, and was currently focused on former asbestos mines.  There were also projects relating to acid mine drainage.  The Council was busy with a number of projects, many of them at the cutting edge of global technology.  It was conducting these with a number of local and international partners.  It was also busy with interventions to boost the rural economy.

Members were curious about the interesting technologies discussed, and asked if the Council was simply developing technology or would exploit their developments commercially.  Members appreciated the passion shown by the speakers.  Their philosophy of training their staff was admirable.  The problem of treating acid main drainage was enormous, and Members were told that there was no commercial technology available to treat the effluent from mines.  The problem of dealing with derelict mines was also a huge drain on the Council's resources.  The priority at present was rehabilitating asbestos mines as they posed a danger to the community.  To solve the problems which were a legacy of mining would take an enormous amount of money and other resources.

The Council for Geoscience wished to be seen as more than map-makers.  Mapping was still a core activity, especially in the face of evermore detailed requirements from mining companies.  The Council was the custodian of geoscientific information and was the national advisory authority.  The budget was based on a state grant but with revenue from commercial activities and other sources.  There was provision for a small surplus, which would be channelled towards maintenance of infrastructure.  There was a challenge in retaining staff, but the Council enjoyed international recognition.  A major international conference would be hosted in South Africa in 2016. There was cooperation with similar bodies in other countries.  Some key projects were outlined.  Members were briefed on the location of seismic events, and these centred on the mining areas.  The Council was also involved with the combating of acid mine drainage in the Witwatersrand.  A number of holes were being closed at derelict mines.

Members noted that the Council was still attractive to overseas counterparts.  The level of cooperation with Brazil, India, China and Russia was questioned.  The correlation of seismic activity with mining was raised, especially the deep mining activities in the Carltonville area.  Members asked what impact would be made on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

Meeting report

Ms F Bikani (ANC) took the chair in the continued absence due to illness of Mr F Gona (ANC).

Briefing by Mintek
Mr Abiel Mngomezulu, President and Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Council for Mineral Technology, (Mintek), introduced the briefing on Mintek’s Strategic Plan for 2013/14.  The core business was research and development (R&D) on mineral processing technologies, promotion of mineral based economies and building a world class R&D capacity.  Other business included good governance practices and enhancing Mintek's visibility and credibility.

Mintek Board
Mr Mngomezulu outlined the approach to R&D planning.  Research themes stemmed from government priorities.  Early-stage R&D activities were funded from the state grant, which would be R210 million.  Promising outcomes were further funded using Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and other funding.  The budget for this was R100 million.  Treasury was now allowing more funding for R&D.  The ratio of R&D to products had increased to 60:40.

Mr Mngomezulu sketched the business environment.  Demand for metal in China, the United States and Europe was falling again after a brief recovery.  However, medium to long-term prospects were good.  Mintek was experiencing reduced demand for its services, and this trend was likely to continue into the 2014/15 financial year (FY).

Mr Mngomezulu went through the organigram.  He noted where women were in senior management positions.

Corporate Services
Mr Mngomezulu was also looking after corporate services.  There were seven development partners assisting with the development of interns.  They wished to have a high impact.  He took one division as an example and showed how the interns had been incorporated into the company.  Some of the former interns listed had been employed at Mintek, and they knew where the other interns had been employed.  Taking on and developing interns was an important goal.

Mr Mngomezulu described some of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) programmes were Mintek were developing for young people.  There was a list of students that had been placed at the various foundries with a mix of full time and part time bursars.  A number of employees had entered Mintek without degrees and were being assisted in achieving these.  It was seen as preferable to award bursaries to current employees than new employees.  In postgraduate studies, there was a higher proportion of part time bursars compared to full time students.  In African culture, family pressures made it difficult for students to continue their studies on a full time basis.  New employees were encouraged to take on post-graduate studies.  This helped with the retention strategy.

Mr Mngomezulu outlined the key plans for the 2013/14 FY.  The professional and leadership pipeline was being strengthened.  For the first time, Mintek was targeting people with disabilities.  Since 2008 Mintek only employed persons with a minimum of a matric certificate.  Those existing employees without a matric had had to undergo adult basic education and training (ABET) programmes.  As a company dealing with science it was important that all staff should be educated.

Mr Sakhi Simelane, General Manager (GM): Finance, Mintek, looked at the annual income since 1968.  This had grown dramatically since 1998.  There was a significant amount of revenue from government sources.  The more work done for government, the more they were able to do in the commercial space.  The state grant was projected to pass the R200 million mark in the coming FY.  Products and services were likely to reach the same amount.  Other income sources were fairly constant.

Mr Simelane showed how the state revenue grant was spent across the different products.  There was an increase on precious and ferrous metals, perhaps due to the value of the Rand. 

Turning to expenditure, Mr Simelane also displayed a constant picture.  Staff remuneration still made up about 55% of expenditure.  He did not expect this pattern to change before 2015.  On capital expenditure (capex), the total for the 2013/14 FY was R81 million.  Of this, R52 million would come from the state grant.  He listed some projects that would be the major capex items.  Infrastructure spending would be about R12 million.

Mintek was expected to be profitable in the forthcoming period.  There had been a surplus in 2012/13, and a small surplus was again expected for 2013/14.

Mintek would maintain a strong balance sheet, of about R300 million.  This excluded assets that were fully funded.  Total assets exceeded R5 million.  The liquidity ratio was 2:1, and the plan was to maintain this rate.  Income should reach R500 million, the first time this figure would be reached.  A large investment had been made in the smelting in the new atomiser, and this should generate more revenue.  2012/13 had been the final year of a three year rehabilitation programme.  There would continue to be a number of small projects.  This was the second year for most of the MTEF projects.

Mr Peter Craven, General Manager: Business Development, Mintek, said that Mintek had various programmes, including the rehabilitation of mines.  There was a list of various mines being rehabilitated, most of them in the Northern Cape.  A three year programme to the value of R90 million had been completed.  In the previous week, a new contract valued at over R200 million had been concluded with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), who had provided a list of projects.  These would now be reprioritised.  Many asbestos mines were in the middle of towns, or villages had grown around the mine. 

The projects were in four clusters.  There were also two discrete sites.  Osizweni was not an asbestos site, but there had been informal coal and clay mining at the site.  The site was in the middle of a village, with a large primary school on the perimeter of the mining site.  The school would have to be relocated due to structural damage.   An area of 20 hectares was involved.  Mintek was reviewing this project, as it would take up a large chunk of the budget.

There was a healthier situation regarding the R&D funding.  There was a 70:30 ratio of commercial to state projects.  It was hard to manage the scientific aspects.  Mintek was moving towards a 50:50 ratio, which would be more sustainable.  There were two sources of funding from the National Treasury.  The MTEF and ECSP funding was divided between the two aspects.  Funding was currently at an appropriate level, and no extra funding was needed.  Funds needed to be sustained over the five year cycle.
Mr Craven went on to describe some technology projects.  The first was the new advanced Continuous Autoclave pilot project.  This was the technology of the future, and was used to treat refractory ores.  It was one of only four such facilities in the world, and there was already a project to treat Russian gold ore.
The Bay 2 Atomiser was based on an existing furnace.  This worked by converting molten metals into powder, for which there were many applications.  The Mintek device was the biggest of its kind in the world, and Mintek was hoping it would attract business.  It would improve the process of platinum smelting.  Anglo Platinum had invested R44 million and a further R24 million had come from Mintek's own funds.  There was a two year project with Anglo Platinum.  The plant had already been commissioned and was up to 50% of production capacity.  The plant operated around the clock.
The next project, Mr Craven told the Committee, was advanced sensor-based sorting.  This recovered ore from waste material.  Most mining companies saw this technology as a major way forward.  Resources would be more sustainable as a result of better sorting.  It could be used to recover most metals, including coal.  A grant had been obtained, and the focus would be on the local coal industry.  It was an advanced technology with many applications.
The next example was a rare earth element refinery.  This would produce more commercial revenue than any other project.  It made use of high technology components.  Rare earth production was dominated by China, although South Africa had large but scattered resources.  Mintek was looking to stimulate the establishment of a single refinery.  It was a complicated process.  The pilot plant should be ready by the end of 2013.  A full-scale refinery would cost up to $1 billion, and Mintek had already spent between R15 million and R20 million on the pilot project.  Although developing a refinery was expensive, the costs had to be seen in the context of mining costs generally.  One could compare it to the cost of a copper mine.
Savmin Water Treatment was used in the treatment of acid mine drainage (AMD).  A pilot project was being developed at Mintek with the assistance of Veolia, the largest company in this field in the world.  The Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), which was responsible for treating AMD in the Witwatersrand Basin, was looking for the technology now, but about three years were needed for treatment of the Witwatersrand Basin.  However, this was not the only area affected by AMD.
Other commercial projects included Metrix uranium recovery being commercialised with Tenova, and the Institute of Physical and Organic Chemistry (IPOC) ion exchange resin trials, where an exchange with Russia was anticipated.

Research & Development
Dr Makhopa Makhafda, General Manager: Research & Development, Mintek, said that Mintek was working with rural communities.  A technological transfer was being conducted under the Biomin project.  There was a pilot project in the Marble Hall area to increase fertility.  The target was to create four small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMME) with 60 job opportunities.  Mintek was assisting with the training of 120 learners in the rural areas in various skills, including aspects of the jewellery trade.  There was a partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and local mines.  There was a focus on learners with disabilities.

A project in the treatment of mine water and effluent was ongoing.  This would have the double benefit of rendering effluent harmless before disposal while also recovering minerals from the effluent.

There were a number of projects where Mintek was cooperating with international partners.  These included a project on uranium heap leach with a Spanish company, copper heal peach projects in Namibia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and nickel bioleach operations with a Canadian company.

Very successful measurement and control technology had been developed.  A number of products had been developed for both the local and international market.  One example was the Matrix Cynoprobe, which could measure cyanide content at a low level.  In the past, these levels had been measured in terms of parts per million, but was now being done in terms of parts per billion.

Dr Makhafda described the work of the Advanced Material Division.  A conference would be hosted by the catalysis group in October 2013.  The HySA Catalysis Competence Centre had 25% of the world market.  It would optimise the performance of the Membrane Electronic Assembilies fuel cell electrodes.  A Clean Room Nanotechnology Laboratory would soon be opened, which might be the only such facility in the country.  Production of nano-particles would be up-scaled.  The outputs of the DST Advanced Metals Initiative – Ferrous and Base Metals Development Network would be increased.  Mintek was part of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's (CSIR) titanium plant.  An automated platform was being developed for drug recovery.  A facility would be opened for the local industry.  Mintek would collaborate with TIA, science councils and other higher education institutes.

Concluding Remarks
Mr Mngomezulu said that he hoped the strategic plan was not too confusing.  Mintek was a people orientated organisation.  It played a role in improving the processed of both big and small mining companies.  It was making rural interventions.  Revenue in 2006 had been about R300 million, and this had grown to R500 million.  It had partnerships with many companies.

Mr J Lorimer (DA) had heard many interesting things in the briefing.  He asked if there was any information on investment in small scale mining.  He asked if the autoclave was being designed so that Mintek could sell the technology, or if they were planning to process ore themselves, and if titanium featured in these plans.  Was there any use for the Bay 2 facility except for platinum? How many mines were producing the rare earth, and what uses did this resource have?  Was this new technology?  He asked if Savmin would be used to treat the Witwatersrand Basin AMD problem when it was ready, and if it would produce clean water.

Mr H Schmidt (DA) asked how many scientific papers Mintek produced.  On capex, he asked if most of the expenditure would be for the rehabilitation of the Mintek buildings.  Was there a balance between work opportunities and formalising illegal mining at Osizweni?  He wanted more information on the sensor-based sorting.

Ms N Khunou (ANC) hoped that all the work at Mintek was done with the same passion with which the briefing had been presented.  The process of placing interns had not been seen before.  In many other fields interns were not used properly, often being assigned menial tasks such as filing and making tea.  It was good to see the focus on the disabled and she hoped to see more opportunities for these people.  More black females should still be encouraged.  She asked what retention mechanisms were in place.  The tendency was that government trained people only to see them recruited by the private sector.  She asked if Mintek salaries were competitive.

Mr S Mohai (ANC) stressed the importance of research.  He asked what investment was being made in new technology, such as deep mining.  There seemed to be a shift from destructive mining towards industrial activity.  He asked if the value chain was expanding.  There would be no expansion in the number of jobs without re-investment.

Mr C Gololo (ANC) asked about derelict and ownerless mines.  It was estimated that 5 000 mines needed attention.  He asked how much money was need, as it did not seem that government had enough money to address the problems.  He asked how closely Mintek worked with CSIR.

The Chairperson asked if the ABET training for staff was general or focussed on the work of Mintek.  Retention strategy was a major issue.  How community-based was Mintek?  How were the profits realised through commercial activities utilised?  She asked what the difference was between informal and illegal mining.  Mintek could provide some solutions to DMR in this regard.  She asked if the budget for AMD research was enough and how Mintek could assist.  She asked how strong the relationship with the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) was, as this Department was also heavily involved with the AMD problem.

Mr Simelane confirmed that the R12 million allocation was indeed for refurbishment of Mintek's buildings.  The process would last three years, with R15 million budgeted for the 2014/15 FY and R15 million for 2015/16.  This would include all laboratories and other buildings, roads and storage facilities.  Profit was used to bolster the reserves, which currently stood at R280 million.  The policy was to maintain sufficient reserves to cover six months' salaries.  Any profits were directed to the capex programme, and amounted to about R20 million per annum.

Mr Craven replied that the Autoclave was for ores that needed more aggressive treatment than conventional methods.  There were a number of ores in this categories, including gold, uranium and various base metals.  Most of these were by-products of the aluminium processing industry.  Most of the gold mined in the Witwatersrand was easy to treat, but that from the Barberton area did need this aggressive treatment.  Most of the ores mined in Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries were of the poorer quality needing this treatment.  No titanium would be processed at this plant.

Conventional smelting produced metal in ingot form.  Metals in powder form were essential in the production of aluminium.  It was a large facility, geared to function as a demonstration and commercial test site.  He noted that Mintek paid standard municipal tariffs for electricity, which could be three times those agreed to by the commercial companies.

South Africa had many small deposits of rare earth.  The largest consolidated deposits were in China, Australia and California.  Deposits were found throughout Southern Africa.  The problem was that the concentrate produced by mining could not be easily sold which made it difficult to start mines.  A local refinery was needed to make mining operations viable.  It would take between five and ten years to develop a local refinery.  The presence of a refinery would make it viable to establish mines and associated manufacturing industries.  There were no mines currently in production in South Africa.  There had been two, at Steenkampskraal in the Cape Province and at Richard's Bay, but they had ceased production in the 1970s.  South Africa had been a world leader in this form of mining.  Mintek had its own technologies, and there was a trade off between risks and benefits.

On the issue of Savmin, there was no technology commercially available that could produce 100% treatment of AMD.  There were a number of technologies that could separate the components of AMD from the water, and compressed this residue into a sludge.  About 90% of the water could be recovered and made potable.  At present, the remaining 10% would be stored in reservoirs and allowed to evaporate.  This was not sustainable.  There was an international focus on treating the components.  There were options for this, but they were not commercially viable at present.  The question was whether the tools developed by Mintek were the best for these applications as no one technology was better than another.

Measures had been taken in the Witwatersrand Basin.  The was an interim process of neutralising the effluent at present.  However, this product still contained sulphates and harmful minerals.  Mintek was fully cooperating with TCTA, which had been appointed the coordinator of the project.  There would be extra costs for alternative treatments.  At present the budget to combat AMD in the Witwatersrand West Basin alone was R1.5 billion.  This was very expensive, and the current process still left a problem of concentrated sludge.

Mintek had produced 42 publications and 72 conference papers.  This was about the same as in the previous year.  Over 500 reports had been published related to commercial work.  Only certain information was published, as Mintek had patented certain technologies and there were trade secrets to be protected.  De Beers had been a state-of-the-art exponent of optical sorting of diamond residue.  Increased computer technology had seen the centre of this expertise to move to Europe.  Mintek was more into the  application mode, and used third party equipment to develop technology.

Mintek did see an expansion in the value chain.  There were several activities to support mining.

The direction was being taken to concentrate Mintek's efforts in the sector of derelict and ownerless mines was focussed on the former asbestos mines.  These posed a danger to the health of the communities.  It was a large project which drained the resources of Mintek, as was the case in the Osizweni area.  The estimated costs ran into billions of Rand and would also tie up other resources.

The Chairperson asked how the work with DMR on derelict mines was coordinated.  An overall budget would have to be determined.  Some of the money from DMR was also going to geosciences.  The Committee would need a presentation on this matter.  All parties were saying not enough money was being made available.  At Mintek's last presentation the size of the dump had also been presented as an expense.  All the Members might have passed on and the problem would still exist.  Many dumps were still standing, and attracted illegal mining. 

Mr Schmidt had heard a figure of R50 billion.  It was probably the responsibility of DMR to coordinate.  What was a liability today could be an asset tomorrow.

Mr Mngomezulu said that Mintek was helping DMR, but it was the Department's responsibility.  The Council for Geoscience (CGS) made its own contributions.  There was an asbestos mine in Mpumalanga next to a dam.  Sealing one hole revealed another ten.  He could not honestly say how many sites there were.  The cost must be determined first.  They had been talking about this since 2000, and it would take about R100 billion to fix the problem.  There was a school that had to be moved, and houses would have to be evacuated away.  Mintek could do nothing until all the other issues were addressed.  The mining companies would want an alternate site to mine.  DMR came to Mintek with identified areas, and it was up to Mintek to survey the financial and other implications of rehabilitating mines.  Some work had been done on a budget of R90 million. 

Mr Mngomezulu could not show Members a map of the areas in which Mintek operated.  They did not get involved in mining, but were only involved after the rock was broken.  Their relations with CSIR were good, but there times when they felt CSIR was encroaching on their turf.   A former senior person from Mintek had moved to CSIR, and this had led to more cordial relations.  In addition, the Deputy Chairperson of the Mintek board chaired the CSIR board. 

Mr Mngomezulu said that Mintek needed to lead the country in terms of science.  They were far more advanced.  ABET depended on the person.  Some would be happy to complete an ordinary matric, but others would want to develop themselves further.  Education would not make one rich, but could provide the tools for future success.  Staff retention was not just about money, but also about how a company treated its people.  Many Mintek members did resign over financial issues, but remained friends with their former colleagues and continued to share ideas.  One had even returned to Mintek despite having to take a cut in salary.  He joked that he even encouraged his employees to marry each other to keep it all in the family.

Mr Craven added that the heaps were shrinking.  It was possible to dissolve the deposits and recover metal content.  About 60% of copper was now being recovered in this way, and the same application was used for uranium.  The dumps also presented an ecological problem.

Briefing by Council for Geoscience
Mr Phuti Ngoepe, Chairperson of the Board, CGS, said that CGS also relied on a mixture of funding.  It was still busy with large scale mapping of the country.  A new CEO had been appointed, but was unable to attend the meeting due to a family emergency.  A new board had taken office in October 2012, still under his leadership.  The CGS Act had been amended with many implications.  The CEO had to start with a repositioning strategy.  The most important international conference would be held in South Africa in 2016.

Dr Gerhard Graham, Executive Manager, CGS, said that the previous year had been very exciting.  There was a five year plan in place.   Strategic outcomes were to have employees viewing the CGS as an attractive career opportunity.  The CGS was responsive to developmental needs, and was internationally recognised in this regard.  The CGS was financially viable, using multiple revenue streams.  There had been tough times financially in the past.  Although not unscathed, the CGS had learned from these experiences. 

The vision and mission statement were being considered.  They were moving away from being simply map-makers, but were looking to provide a holistic package of services.  They did not intend to move into fields occupied by Mintek and CSIR, but the barrier between commercial and state operations was becoming vague.  A sustainable environment was needed to explore options.  The values of the organisation included innovation through teamwork and excellence.

There was a process to amend the Geoscience Act of 1993, and this had been signed off in 2010.  This introduced new areas to the mandate of CGS.  Its curatorship of data and information had been increased.  It made CGS more of an advisory authority, and increased the possibilities of research.  In the past they had not been allowed to do exploration which might lead to a mine.  The only limitation was that the CGS could not develop a mine for itself.

Additional funding would be needed to fulfil the mandate.  Some of the provisions of the Amendment Act had still not come into force as a result.  The information and documentation was not at the envisaged level.  A new body, called the Appeals Committee for Geohazards, was not yet in place.  The seismological network had now been included in the Act.  The geotechnical appeal committee was still to be appointed.  Advice would be needed on dolomitic areas, for example.  Developers could appeal against decisions made by CGS, as could home-owners.  Extensive resources would be needed.

The national system of innovation steered numerous projects.  The CGS had worked with DMR on the transformation of the mining industry.  The Grand Challenges identified by DST were being supported.  CGS had traditionally created maps identifying areas of mineral deposits.  There was a huge gap in expectation.  Work done for the World Bank had reflected the sentiments of the mining industry.  Much of this was not flattering.  The mining industry wanted more developed geological maps.  A point would be reached where the industry took over exploration from geoscientific institutes. 

The five year cycle had started in May 2011 and was revised annually.  There were a number of imperatives, including skills development and development in Africa.  One recurring item was the importance of engaging with stakeholders. 

The strategic objectives included addressing stakeholder needs, promoting the CGS and disseminating information to the pubic, attracting a skilled workforce, enhancing levels of excellence, building a positive organisational culture, embracing diversity, generating revenue and managing overhead efficiency.  The CGS was currently in more comfortable financial position, but resources were a bit strained.

Dr Graham listed challenges, including that of insufficient resources.  If finances allowed it, another forty geologists could be appointed immediately.  Other challenges were ageing infrastructure, continuing with transformation and addressing national development challenges.  Requests for assistance were being received from all over the world.  This was putting pressure on resources. 

Financial Matters
Mr Leonard Matsepe, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), CGS, said that financial problems had not totally disappeared.  Budgets still had to be allocated to the various tasks.  The budget for 2013/14 was for an income of R348 million, of which R265 million would be in the form of government grants.  The second stream of commercial activities would bring in R80 million.  Investments and some other sources would earn R3 million.  On the expenses side, staff costs would be R160 million, an increase of 8% from the previous year.  CGS had struggled to retain high calibre scientists.  Money was not the only incentive.  At present CGS could offer neither the best salaries nor the most stimulating work environment.  R2 million was allocated for bursaries, but there had been curbs on bursary schemes in recent years.  It would increase in the future.  R36 million would go into commercial projects, and R128 million into operating costs.  This amounted to R326.5 million, leaving a surplus of R21.5 million.  The surplus would be used to finance capex in the form of equipment (R1.5 million) and land and buildings (R20 million).  A controlled environment was needed for the laboratories, which necessitated the installation of air conditioning.  Money had also been spent on repairs and maintenance of buildings.

Mr Matsepe said that CGS was not a profit making organisation, and any surplus was invested into capex.  Very little had been budgeted for the replacement of equipment in the past.  While the grant seemed to be growing, the growth was only at about 5% which was barely covering the effects of inflation.  Work was being done on the ingress of water into derelict mines.  R20 million had been allocated to derelict and ownerless mines.  People were now being brought together and this would stimulate investment.

The Chairperson asked the CGS delegation to keep an eye on the clock.  Much of what Members wanted was in the financial details already presented.

Dr Graham put forward targets set by CGS.  There were seven areas of operations, and these had not changed.  The country had to be mapped at an appropriate scale, and this had been done on a 1:250 000 scale.  This was still too broad for mining houses, and a scale of 1:50 000 was needed.  This would increase the number of maps from 71 to 3 500.  To do this would occupy a number of geologists for a over 30 years, but new technology could be combined with existing information.  About 150 maps could be prepared almost immediately using this technology.  Geotechnical maps at a 1:50 000 scale were concentrated on the big cities, but would probably never be completed.  Geochemical maps were also being produced, but this was a huge task.  There had also been extensive airborne mapping, but the line spacing had to be reduced to 100m, taken from a height of 50 metres.  The target area was KwaZulu-Natal at present.

Ms Michelle Grobbelaar, Seismology Manager, CGS, presented a map of seismicity.  This was broken up in terms of both mining and natural events.  The majority of seismicity was in fact related to mining.  A concerted effort had been made to increase monitoring in these areas.  Real-time data was being sent from the Klerksdorp / Orkney area.  The results were being stored on a database.  Information from mining companies was also incorporated. 

Ms Grobbelaar said that monitoring networks had also been set up in the Witwatersrand Basin and Carltonville areas, in cooperation with the Japanese.  The number of events was far higher than the national average.  A lot of progress was being made.

Ms Grobbelaar said that a centre of research in induced seismicity would be developed, encompassing seismologists, technicians and analysts.  Modes would be tweaked to focus seismological events more accurately, and advice could be given on mine closure procedures.  Young scientists, technicians and analysts were being trained.

Mine Water Management
Ms Mosidi Makgae, Environmental Manager, CGS, said that the strategic mine water management project was a two year project.  This was designed to prevent water ingress in the Central Rand Basin.  Three canals had been proposed.  Seismological activities were being monitored and passive treatment technologies were being used.  On the East Rand basin sources of pollution were being identified.  A holistic approach was being taken towards best management practice of AMD impacts using a catchment approach.  An AMD hotspot atlas was being compiled, which would facilitate planning. 

A multi-disciplinary approach would be followed.  A map was being compiled, and the project would continue into the following FY.  Rehabilitation options would then be considered.  A database of about 6 000 ownerless mines had been created.  The challenge was that prospecting rights were still being issued, either on old mines or on the dumps.  The aim was to reduce the liabilities of DMR.  In some cases rehabilitation might not be needed.  Priorities needed to be set.  Some mines were far from the communities, but in other cases there were people living next to the sites.  Dangerous openings were being closed, but often re-opened by illegal miners.  CGS could not control this.  About 28 had been closed in the 2012/13 FY. 

The focus had been on asbestos mines, of which there were 127.  Again priorities would be determined based on the danger of each site to the community.   Closure of holes had created jobs, albeit not sustainable ones.  They were normally undertaken by the local communities.  A number of graduates had been employed by these projects.

Dr Graham said that about 3% of the global mining spend was in south Africa.  He went through some projects.  R30 million had been allocated to projects in the Tugela Basin area.  The prospectivity map should be completed by March 2014.  They were already moving towards the next phase, in the Namaqualand area.  The economy was gradually picking up.  The CGS was the driving force for the international geographical conference, to be held in cape Town in 2016.

The number of bursaries was increasing.  There were 16 full time and 30 part-time bursars.  An internship programme was conducted in collaboration with the MQA.  There was support and mentorship for interns.  Documentation was being developed for the geographic mapping school.  The ratio of staff had improved in terms of both race and gender, but more work was still needed in these areas.  The bursary programme looked to address these.  There was some improvement in the numbers of professionals in terms of race.  The Field School was a recent development.  The plan was that the students would spend up to 2 years in the field, but this training had now been divided into modules.

Mr Gololo noted that CGS was very attractive to the international community, despite limitations on equipment and finances.  He asked why these bodies were not funding visits by CGS.

Ms N Ngele (ANC) asked what would eventually be done with AMD residue.

Mr Mohai asked if there were any long term plans with the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries.

Mr Schmidt asked with which countries there were regional cooperation agreements.  There were many requirements expressed at conferences for cross-border agreements.  There were many red dots in the Carltonville area, and he asked if the deep mining operations in that area played a particular role.

Dr Graham responded that CGS was attractive.  Britain, for example, had been fully mapped many years previously, and those skills had now been lost.  In Africa countries had not yet reached this level of knowledge.  There was a long list of countries which held South African mapping geologists in high regard.  This is why South African geologists were often called on to lead international projects.  This was normally termed as commercial work, as the related costs would normally be covered. 

Ms Makgae said that AMD was a real environmental challenge, and would persist for many years.  A short term approach of pumping the water and utilising recovered metals was being followed.  A long term strategy was still to be developed.

Ms Grobbelaar said that Carltonville was one of the most active seismological areas.  The deep mines did set off seismicity, but the gold mines seemed to be managing seismicity better.  There were still events, but not as significant as in the past.

Dr Graham said that a better plan was needed in dealing with BRICS.  CGS had attended the BRICS workshop for the first time, but no firm partnership was yet in place.

Mr Ngoepe said that other activities were taken part involving BRICS countries.  There was tremendous experience in some countries, but resources and coordination in those countries made South African look like a backward country.

Dr Graham said that there were agreements, but these were often in the form of Memorandums of Understanding with their counterparts in other countries, such as that with Namibia.  These were often agreements where both parties had a similar interest, and were often funded by a third party.

The Chairperson noted that there were amendments to the legislation.  She asked if this would be stand-alone act, and if it would impact on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).

Dr Graham said that there would be changes to align current legislation with the MPRDA.  CGS would be noted as a specified recipient of certain reports.

Mr Ngoepe stressed the importance of the conference.  The outside world did have a lot of interest in the African continent.  This would determine the theme of the conference.

The Chairperson put forward minutes of a previous meeting, and they were adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


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