Modern Mining September 2016


– over 40 of Africa’s top geological sites have been reviewed and have been presented in a specially prepared book entitled Africa’s Top Geological Sites: The Geoheritage of a Continent published by Struik/Penguin (see also page 3 of this issue). A second publication timed to coincide with the 35th IGC is The Great Mineral Fields of Africa . Sponsored by Pangea Exploration, this is a special issue of the IUGS journal Episodes and includes updated reviews of the geology, resource base and origin of various deposits across the continent, together with mineralisation models and comments on pos- sible extensions. “I’ve been closely involved as project director with the preparation of this vol- ume, which has been guest edited by Michael Wilson, who is an economic geology consultant

is slowly dying in South Africa,” he said. “In order to get a prospecting right or a min- ing right, companies have to go through all sorts of hoops and deal with a multitude of government departments. The process is time consuming and expensive and is deterring investment in mining. So one of the functions of the IGC, spearheaded by Exxaro, has been to focus on this issue and to bring together some of the opposing parties such as the envi- ronmentalists on the one hand and explorers and miners on the other with a view to finding solutions that encompass the legitimate con- cerns of both sides.” Viljoen noted that many other African coun- tries were more ‘mining friendly’ than South Africa. “In Namibia we have uranium mining in the Namib Naukluft Park and in Botswana diamond mining in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. So what have they got right – if they have got it right – and why are we stifling our mining industry? These are questions we need to address.” He added that the IUGS has intro- duced a new initiative entitled ‘Resourcing Future Generations’, a topic of direct relevance to the African mining debate. According to Viljoen, a major initiative to improve the state of geosciences in Africa is the PanAfGeo initiative, which was launched during the Congress. A collaboration between the Organisation of African Geological Surveys (OAGS) and EuroGeoSurveys, PanAfGeo – which comes in the wake of a two-year feasi- bility study which covered 25 African countries – will focus on policy governance and com- munication and will put in place mechanisms allowing African countries to collaborate in the field of geosciences. Another theme of the 35th IGC was the grow- ing importance of geoparks, geoheritage and geotourism and many of the presentations and panel discussions focused on these ‘hot topics’, reflecting the fact that the IUGS has launched a worldwide geoparks initiative. “Despite the rich geological heritage we have in Africa, we’ve not made the same progress seen in some parts of the word,” said Viljoen. “China, for example, has 40 or so geoparks whereas South Africa does not have a single one – although, of course, some of our geological sites are pro- tected inasmuch as they form part of World Heritage sites. We’re very much hoping that this Congress will kick start the geopark con- cept here in South Africa. At the moment, we’re simply not realising the incredible geotourism potential we have.” He added that to coincide with the 35th IGC – and to further promote the geopark concept

“At the moment, we’re simply not realising the incredible

geotourism potential we have.”

and extremely well- known in geological circles,” said Viljoen. “Withmore than 400

pages and a host of

e x p e r t contrib- utors, more than 30 in all, it’s been a massive under- taking – and one of which we’re very proud. It will undoubtedly become a standard reference.” On the subject of the state of exploration in Africa, Viljoen believes the continent is only getting a fraction of global exploration spend. “This is a great pity as Africa probably ranks as one of the most under-explored regions of the world, particularly in terms of the application of modern geoscience techniques. I’m in no doubt that it’s an area where there is still huge scope for new finds as we’ve seen with the amazing Kamoa/Kakula copper discoveries of Ivanhoe near Kolwezi in the DRC. There is also the potential to extend known mineral prov- inces, an example being the Waterberg project of PlatinumGroup Metals which has opened up an entire new section of the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex. Our hope, of course, is that this 35th IGC will – among other things – lead to an increased interest in African exploration and an increased allocation of exploration dollars to the continent,” he concluded. Photos by PhotoKru

A special issue of ten stamps and two first-day covers celebrating South Africa’s geological highlights was released by the South African Philatelic Bureau for the 35th IGC.


September 2016  MODERN MINING  35

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