Modern Mining September 2016


Cape Town hosts successful ‘World

The recent 35th International Geological Congress (35th IGC) held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre was a huge success, attracting approximately 4 000 delegates from 117 countries. Years of preparation went into the event – considered the ‘World Cup of Geosciences’ – with one of the key figures involved in the planning being well-known South African geologist Richard Viljoen, who acted as Co-President of the Local Organising Committee (LOC). Modern Mining’s Arthur Tassell spoke to him on the opening day of the Congress.

T he Cape Town event is only the second to have been hosted by South Africa. “The first Interna- tional Geological Congress took place in 1878 but it wasn’t until 1929 that South Africa was given the oppor- tunity to play host,” said Viljoen. “The venue for this was Pretoria and the congress attracted a very good turnout of around 500 delegates, probably reflecting the intense interest at the time in the Bushveld Complex and South Af- rica’s platinum resources, with the Merensky Reef having been discovered just several years before. The only other IGC to have been held on the African continent prior to the current one was hosted by Algeria in 1952.”

Pictured here at the 35th IGC are (from left) Professor Phuti Ngoepe (Chairman of the Board – Council for Geo- science), Dr Richard Viljoen (Co-President of the 35th IGC), Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Dr Jeannette McGill (Co-President of the 35th IGC) and Simon Sikhosana (Acting CEO – Council for Geoscience).

As is the case with the Olympic Games and Soccer Word Cups, countries have to bid for the privilege of hosting the IGC, which is held on a four-yearly cycle. “Our bid was adjudged to be the best at the Oslo IGC in Norway in 2008 and four years later when the Congress was held in Brisbane, Australia, we were handed the ‘World Cup of Geosciences’. This is an actual physical cup and is an innovation by the Australians – in future, each host country will pass the cup on to the next country to play host.” Viljoen added that the next IGC would be held in Delhi, India, in March 2020. During the Cape Town event, four countries (Russia, Germany, Korea and Turkey) presented bids to host the 2024 congress (37th IGC). The bid was won by Korea with the Congress to take place in the city of Busan. Viljoen became involved in the planning of the 35th IGC around seven years ago. “Since then, it’s been really hard work – not just for me, of course, but also my Co-President, Jeannette McGill, who is, incidentally, the current President of the Geological Society of South Africa, our Secretary-General, Greg Botha, who is from the Council for Geoscience, and all the very committed members of the Local Organising Committee. The scale of the task we were presented with can be gauged from the fact that we have over 2 900 oral presentations being given at the Congress, as well as 1 700 poster presentations. We also have no less than 44 keynote addresses. To accommodate all the


32  MODERN MINING  September 2016

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