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Government has prioritised investment in the mining sector and mineral beneficiation due to its capacity to grow the economy and create jobs, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Speaking at the South African Mining Investment Roundtable on the margins on the Mining Indaba on Tuesday, Davies said beneficiation of minerals is an important aspect of value addition.

“The beneficiation of our minerals is one of the most critical issues that we as government have prioritised because value addition will go a long way in creating jobs and growing our economy,” said the Minister at the gathering held in Cape Town.

He said South Africa can no longer afford to export raw minerals to be beneficiated in other countries.

“Beneficiation increases the value of our minerals and if we are stuck on exporting raw minerals, we will not be able to build an economy that will enable us to create jobs and develop our country and the continent in general.”

The Departments of Trade and Industry, Mineral Resources and Brand South Africa hosted the roundtable as part of measures to provide potential investors with the opportunity to interact with the country’s political and business leadership.

Davies said massive opportunities exist for investment in the beneficiation of South African minerals. He invited investors attending the session to take advantage of these.

“As a department, we are engaged in various initiatives that are aimed at adding value to our minerals. There is a variety of beneficiation projects that offer opportunities for investment.”

The development of hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses and vanadium batteries are some of the initiatives aimed at beneficiating South African minerals.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said the deepening of stakeholder relations between government, business, labour and communities, and the Mining Charter will go a long way to provide policy certainty for the industry.

Science and Technology Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, who also attended Tuesday’s session, stressed the importance of technology and skills in developing a sustainable mining sector.

Meanwhile, Exxaro Resources Limited committed to investing R20 billion in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, while Vedanta Zinc International committed to conduct a feasibility study to develop a zinc smelter in the Northern Cape.

Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo spoke of the company’s ongoing investment into the local mining industry. Mgojo said the company would inject R20 billion into the industry between 2018 and 2022.

The roundtable was held under the theme ‘Invest in South African Mining’.