Johannesburg - Lack of common understanding about
beneficiation has delayed South Africa from transforming its minerals to usable
goods, said Ben Turok, chairperson of the Institute For African Alternatives.
“One of the main challenges we had in the past was that we
did not have a common understanding (on beneficiation). There was no consensus,
no common understanding of what we are talking about,” he told reporters on
Turok said another obstacle which prevented South Africa
from beneficiation was that there was no agreement in the private sector and
government on the potential gains that beneficiation could bring to the
The briefing followed a meeting held at the Industrial
Development Corporation (IDC) head office in Sandton on Tuesday at which
economists, engineering councils, mining companies, unions, government
departments and academics met to discuss beneficiation of minerals in South
Mining companies complained that there was no alignment of
policy among government department on beneficiation, Turok said, reporting on
the concerns raised during the meeting.
Turok said currently mining companies did some smelting of
the minerals but did not take the process to beneficiation.
He defined beneficiation as the transformation of a mineral
or a combination of minerals to a higher value product.
A presentation was made during the Tuesday meeting in which
the value chain of beneficiation was outlined as consisting of exploration,
extraction, processing, beneficiation, semi-fabrication and fabrication.
“South Africa has been judged as the best resourced mineral
country in the world. However the beneficiation of these minerals is very low,”
South Africa held 88% of the world's reserves of platinum
group metals. However, only 0.4% of these metals were beneficiated locally.
A total of 80% of the world's manganese reserves were in
South Africa and the country enjoyed a monopoly of 72% of the world's chrome
The report of the meeting would be first sent to
participants and then delivered to various relevant government departments,
portfolio committees, and the chamber of mines with recommendations.
Nationalisation was not discussed at the meeting.