The legacy of Apartheid still looms large in South Africa, and the country’s critical mining industry is no exception. While Black empowerment requirements, rules that have ensured some of the country’s mineral wealth is owned by Black South Africans, have been enshrined in law for years, a court ruling could alter this state of affairs.

With a high court concluding that the latest Mining Charter, published in 2018, constitutes policy and now law, there are concerns that its Black empowerment articles could be swept aside, with companies no longer legally obligated to fulfil them. Yet others argue that limiting Black shareholders to sell their assets exclusively to other Black South Africans has the effect of stifling the country’s economy, and impeding financial gain. As tensions rise, we consider the impacts of the ruling on both people and profits.

Elsewhere, we consider the implications of the precedent set by India’s move to “phase down”, rather than phase out coal from its energy mix, and assess how the clean energy transition could impact the mining, production and purchase of metals.

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In this issue


Once empowered, always empowered: tensions rise in South African mining

In a notable victory for mining companies, a recent high court judgement set aside key provisions relating to Black empowerment in the South African Government’s controversial Mining Charter III, also stating it constituted policy and not law. Heidi Vella considers the verdict and its impact on mining companies and the sector at large.

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How AI can revolutionise the monitoring of tailings facilities

Tailing dam failures continue to be a real and present danger for mining operations. Zachary Skidmore investigates the potential of autonomous drones and AI in enhancing the monitoring of these facilities.

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Phasing down, not phasing out: Why is India locked into coal?

COP26 was meant to mark the start of the complete phase out of coal. However, following objections made by India and others, the agreement changed to ‘phasing down’ coal instead. Zachary Skidmore explores why India is so locked into coal.

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What does the energy transition mean for metals?

Zachary Skidmore speaks to Warren Patterson, ING’s head of commodities strategy, about the implications of ING’s report on energy transition metals and the growth of metals demand in a decarbonised society.

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Autonomous exploration: the potential for drones in the mining industry

Drone technology has the potential to be one of the most disruptive in the mining industry, especially as prices fall and the drones become more available. JP Casey considers the potential of drones to impact the mining industry in general, and exploration work in particular.

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2022 predictions: recycling of battery metals set to boom

Recycling has the potential to reduce the primary demand of metals considerably over the next ten years. Zachary Skidmore explores the potential of recycling and the barriers to its full-scale implementation.

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Next issue: automation

Automation holds perhaps no greater potential than in the mining industry. The promise of removing human workers from dangerous environments, mapping remote locations, and automating the drilling, excavating and sorting of ore has made the sector something of a proving ground for new autonomous technology. But will this potential ever be realised?