Mining Trends 2019 and beyond
Mining has become a complex business, largely due to stakeholder involvement, legislation and regulations, as well as the technical aspects affecting the day-to-day of the business. Mining is – and has been for over 100 years – at the heart of the South African economy. Last year mining contributed almost 7% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with an indirect contribution of over 17% to the GDP. [Source: IOL: Not all doom & gloom for SA Mining industry.]
2019 has been a difficult year for mining in Africa. Mining in South Africa saw the country register its third consecutive quarter of negative growth. This, according to Q1 2019 GDP figures released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). [Source: Mining Review: Mining Recession in SA]
Without going into too much detail, the ongoing US-China trade war has seen a ripple effect of uncertainty into the mining markets. Despite this, however, CA Mining has quite a few gold mining projects on the go currently. The gold mining sector is still operating at full steam and this owes either to people investing in more in gold as a more stable commodity than forex; or higher gold unit costs. [Source: Minerals Council: Our people: Facts & figures 2018 pdf]. Gold has traditionally, and still is, the first commodity investors rely on when local and international markets are suffering.
How has the 2019 mining job market fared at CA Mining, in these trying times?
It is gratifying that employment in some mining sectors grew during this period, despite the difficult market. Mining contributes to various industries and has an extensive supply chain. Jobs in mining translate into much-needed job opportunities in other industries. [Source: Minerals Council: Our people: Facts & figures 2018 pdf]. Expansion of mining operations results in cross-industry growth, thus increased jobs in mining is indicative of increased employment opportunities for South Africa in general.
How Commodities that are picking up in Africa
Recently, mining in Africa has experienced a few mini booms, particularly in battery minerals like lithium, graphite, gold, multi-disciplinary engineering, environmental as well as mining consultancy arenas. [Source: Mining Review: Africa attracts exploration spend]
There’s been a notable increase in interest in the below 3 commodities resulting in an increase in demand for recruiting skills for these sectors.
- Lithium: Global demand for lithium is currently increasing exponentially to the point where pundits are predicting that conventional sources of lithium supply may not cope with demand. [Source: Mining Review: Conventional sources of lithium will not cope with demand] Whether this is true remains to be seen, but in the meantime, one needs to consider what these potential alternative lithium sources would be.
Alterative Lithium Source Options include:
- Geothermal and oilfield brines
- Spent lithium-ion batteries
- Lithium clays
- Spodumene tailings
- Lithium micas found in pegmatites and greisen.
- Graphite: The Graphite market in Africa has also recently picked up both in Africa and globally.
- Gold: Gold remains one of the world’s most coveted metals out there. Currently, gold stands at the highest price it’s ever been. The current US-China trade war mentioned in the beginning of this post, has caused quite a bit of uncertainty in the mining market in Africa. South Africa’s gold production accounts for approximately 4% of the global gold production. Mining pundits predict that new investment in this sector is highly unlikely in South Africa. [Source: IOL: Not all doom & gloom for SA Mining industry.]
Despite these challenges in the gold mining market, CA Mining has noted a favourable increase in demand for gold-skilled professionals in Africa.
What’s does the future hold for mining recruitment and jobs in Africa?
Whilst the mining market in Africa has become more complex than a few decades ago, it needs to transition into a more dynamic sector to accommodate the current prevailing trends. Stakeholders need to get together to find new ways of making mining safer, more efficient and sustainable, more integrated with the needs of local communities, while simultaneously lowering its environmental footprint. Also, an increased focus on research, innovation, and the use of advanced technology is essential. It is a process of transition and transformation of the mining industry of yesteryear to that of tomorrow. This is a sure-fire sign that the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is unfolding in Africa.
Modernisation will be driven by technological innovation, which in turn needs to be driven by R&D. To be successful, the approach to modernisation must be holistic, and in a systems and people-centric manner. [Source: Minerals Council: Our people: Facts & figures 2018 pdf].
The future success of the mining industry relies on the continuous development of technical innovation and the nurturing and retention of human capabilities. Mining companies invest in employee training and development in many forms that include learnerships, bursaries, apprenticeships, internships and adult education. [Source: Minerals Council: Our people: Facts & figures 2018 pdf].
An awesome example of mine modernisation
An example of a current mine which has modernised, is “The Anglo American FutureSmart Mining Initiative”, where they have implemented the following:
- Drone technology to monitor movements of ore and labour,
- Remote-controlled drilling machines to access dangerous and previously inaccessible areas,
- Advanced technologies using artificial intelligence to improve operations and safety,
These are examples of extracting MORE metal with LESS waste, while minimising cost and the environmental footprint. [Source: Minerals Council: Gold]
Despite key challenges facing the Africa mining industry this year, it can be overcome with conversation, engagement, and the building of trust among business, labour, and government, coupled with a people-centric approach. Gold mining activities remain a mainstay of employment in many communities in Africa. Every direct job in the mining sector results in two indirect jobs being created elsewhere. [Source: Minerals Council: Gold]
Here’s our current gold mining jobs for you to apply for!