MINERAL Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - Access to funding for junior mining companies in South Africa came under the spotlight at the Junior Indaba in Johannesburg yesterday.

Olebogeng Sentsho, the chief executive at Simba Mgodi Funding, told a panel discussion at the Indaba that junior miners had to look into alternatives to traditional funding methods including crowdfunding.

“We have looked into blockchain applications, and into crowdfunding - which has been very successful for us,” she said, adding that junior miners opted to raise money abroad.

“Our stock exchange is averse to explorers - we need to be able to raise money here,” she said.

Sentsho said credit legislation was a stumbling block to junior miners.

“Our credit legation is not supportive of junior miners. For legislation, junior miners are high risk and it is why people cannot get money for projects. Tax holidays and incentives would be nice for junior miners,” she said. Sentsho also said South Africa has a deficit of geological information.

“We do not have a comprehensive geological survey. Geological information is difficult to come by,” she said.

The Council of Geosciences last month said it had embarked on the development of an updated and digitally interactive geological map of South Africa aimed to help with information on the country's resources.

At an earlier session, Madelein Todd, chief marketing officer at the Manganese Metal Company, said South Africa stood to benefit from growth in the battery electric vehicle (EV) arena as manganese could displace cobalt.

“All new-generation EV batteries contain lithium. That’s the common denominator,” said Todd, who also predicted that manganese could become better known as a high-purity product for batteries.

In terms of illicit minerals, on Tuesday Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said the industry lost R41billion last year to illicit precious metals.

“Zama zamas is a criminal activity. We are working on establishing formal artisanal mining as a better option. We should have a specialised unit in the police to deal with illegal mining. We must be serious,” said Mantashe.

Yesterday, Pan African Resources chief executive Kobus Loots said that the company was looking at ways to combat illegal mining. “Police resources are under strain, this (zama zama) is something that needs attention,” Loots said.

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