South African junior mining companies will soon be able to apply for the Mining Exploration Fund after it was officially launched at the 2024 Mining Indaba conference.
Having passed all the regulatory hurdles and approvals including from the Cabinet, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Industrial Development Corporation signed a memorandum of agreement marking the establishment of the exploration fund.
The first application window for qualifying companies’ eligible miners will be announced soon.
Funding criteria require applicants to comply with the South African mining regulatory requirements, including “but not limited to” the provisions of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, the National Environmental Management Act, and the National Water Act.
“We can’t overstate the significance of this industry to our economy. Mining is not only the backbone of our economy but is the largest employing sector in this country,” said IDC Chief Operations Officer Joanne Bate.
“Our exposure has informed us of the many challenges facing emerging black-owned mining companies that are looking for a foothold into this sector.
“Exploration costs can be onerous on small mining firms and therefore, it is our hope that the fund will help alleviate the challenges facing junior mining companies,” she said.
Addressing investors during the fund launch, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said there were companies such as Seriti, Exxaro, Thungela, and Kalagadi Manganese that serve as good examples of the shift in black ownership, where resources must be invested and efforts to upsurge to meaningfully realise the Freedom Charter’s objective of a South Africa where “the people share in the country’s wealth”.
“With the decline of gold mining, which mining in South Africa has been associated with over the years, the strategy identifies exploration as an enabler of a sunrise mining industry through the development of new mines, hence it puts a lot of emphasis on accelerated exploration projects,” said Mantashe.
“As part of our concerted efforts aimed at accelerating exploration projects, we pursued a partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa to establish the exploration fund for junior miners.
“Through this fund, we seek to financially assist qualifying enterprises in the mining industry to conduct prospecting work, increase the junior miners’ access to mine ore bodies, and promote economic inclusion that will support equitable economic growth.”
Mantashe said qualifying small-scale mining operations can apply for the fund as they equally need support along with artisanal miners.
“All these initiatives form part of the government’s efforts to redress the injustices of the past and accelerate the participation of previously disadvantaged people in the mainstream economy.
“We look forward to the success of this initiative, whose value to South Africa’s economic growth can only be realised with the emergence of new mines,” he said.