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MEI Online: General Minerals Engineering: Latest News: November 17th 2003

:: Mineral Industry Critical to SA's Economy Growth  

A panel of experts has told minerals and metallurgical research house Amira International that the mineral industry is critical to the future of South Africa's economic growth, during the company's recent annual general meeting, held in Cape Town.

During the meetings, president and CEO of State-owned minerals company Mintek, Paul Jourdan, and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of Cape Town, Professor Cyril O'Connor, were invited to address the board.

Jourdan emphasised the critical role of the minerals industry to the future of South Africa.

He pointed out that that while South Africa's growth rate of 2,5% to 3% was performing at a respectable level compared with other countries, it was not enough.

"A growth rate of 7% is needed for a developing country, currently with 35-40% unemployment.

The minerals industry must underpin accelerated growth through efficient use of resources and increased training and employment of the black community," said Jourdan.

The South African government's research and development strategy to boost growth includes developing technologies for poverty alleviation, developing new technology platforms, such as biotech and information technology, developing advanced manufacturing technologies, and leveraging future technologies from the current resources industries.

Mining and minerals platforms for research and development in respect to leveraging resource-based technologies could include beneficiation of feedstock, developing advanced mining technology and lateral migration or spill-overs from the resources sector into new hi-tech sectors of the economy.

"Mineral industry technology spin-outs could be of great benefit to the country," said Jourdan.

Vice President of Amira International, Rob La Nauze, endorsed the thrust to develop minerals as a platform for new technologies.

Amira has made similar representations to the Australian government over the past few years.

O'Connor pointed out that the liaison between Amira International and the University of Cape Town had already contributed to some of these goals, particularly through South African involvement in the international project P9 Mineral Processing.

He also noted the major role which the South African Mining Industry is playing as a sponsor of education directly through bursaries and joint ventures in continuing education for its engineers.



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