Modern Mining September 2016


Cup of Geosciences’

strong contingent from India also being present. “We’re happy with the number of attendees. The total is lower than at the most recent IGCs held in Brisbane and Oslo, which both had in the vicinity of 6 000 delegates, but is nev- ertheless very respectable given the current economic climate and particularly the poor state of the resources industry globally.” He pointed out that the organisers had made a conscious effort to draw in delegates from all over Africa. “Bridging the distances between African geoscientists has been a key goal of this IGC,” he stated. “Among other things, we’ve had a GeoHost programme which has been designed and developed by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) to help young, financially disadvantaged geoscientists to attend the IGC.” Accompanying the conference was an exhibi- tion, which – according to Viljoen – exceeded expectations. “We have more than 200 exhibitors and we’ve been delighted with the response,” he said. “They range from mining groups such as Exxaro – our main sponsor – and Vale through to companies providing geoscience services and equipment, as well as academic and research organisations and geological survey organisa- tions from around the world.” The huge number of presentations at the Congress ranged from the practical through to the highly academic and they were grouped under three main core topics – Geoscience for Society, Fundamental Geoscience and Geoscience in the Economy. Addressing some of the issues facing min- erals explorers in South Africa, Viljoen told Modern Mining that a prime concern was the obstacles placed in the way of finding new deposits and developing projects. “Mining

Above: A delegate in the poster presentation area at the Congress. Left: South Africa’s Min- eral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane delivers the keynote address at the opening of the 35th IGC in Cape Town.

presentations, we are having up to 30 sessions running in parallel.” The 35th IGC was also accompanied by an astonishing number of field trips – 16 pre-con- gress and 10 post-congress trips within South Africa with a further 15 field trips covering the entire African continent up as far north as Mali, Ghana and Tanzania. When Modern Mining talked to Viljoen in Cape Town (at which point only the pre-congress tours had been completed), he described the field trip programme as a for- midable exercise. “We have over 700 delegates participating in the various trips, all of which have to have expert guides,” he said. “Probably the most ambitious was our ‘Geological Summits of Africa’, which saw participants – including my Co-President – going down South Africa’s deepest mine, Mponeng, and then flying on to Tanzania to summit Mt Kilimanjaro.” An extremely popular post-congress flag- ship field trip was the train journey from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. Expert guides were on hand to introduce participants to the outstand- ing geological, mining and cultural features at the various stops along the way including the Cape Fold mountains, Kimberley and dia- monds, Johannesburg and gold, the Cradle of Humankind, Mapungubwe, Great Zimbabwe, the Matobo Hills, the Chobe game reserve and, finally, the Falls. Discussing foreign representation at the Congress, Viljoen said the biggest contingent was from China (around 660 delegates) with a


September 2016  MODERN MINING  33

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