15/11/2010 Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu during a media breakfast briefing held at Pretoria Gauteng. (169) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Cape Town - Africa's unmined metals and minerals lie waiting for investors, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Monday.

Speaking at the start of the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, she called for greater investment in exploration by both local and international partners.

“Africa remains grossly under-explored for its mineral potential. For instance, the exploration expenditure per square metre averages US65 dollars in Canada, Australia and Latin America, whereas the African equivalence remains below US5 dollars per square kilometre.

“The mineral exploration prospect in Africa remains extremely high, requiring both local and international partners and investment to unearth.”

Shabangu said tapping into this needed “responsible” investment, not investment based on exploitative principles centred solely on expectations for unrealistic rates of returns, disguised by the principle of high-risk, high-return.

“As you know, mining is a long-term investment, and not about quick wins. Those who balance Africa's mineral development with growth will ultimately receive the greatest reward in the long-term.”

Such development should be coupled with community development, nurturing human capacity growth and development, as well as institutional collaboration on joint technology development and deployment.

It was also important that mining development in Africa be integrated and interlinked with its infrastructure development initiatives, such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, adopted by the African Union.

Shabangu said Africa needed a “gigantic” shift and transformation in its traditional mining jurisdictions.

“This should entail a shift from (the) exporting of largely raw material to ensuring that minerals serve as a catalyst for accelerated industrialisation through mineral value-addition.”

The fundamentals for investing in mineral development, both globally and in Africa specifically, were sound.

“The huge impact of the increased demand on earth's shrinking resource-base, as a result of unprecedented population explosion of recent years, will be even more important for Africa's mineral development.” - Sapa