May 17, 2020

SA Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi discusses protests in Steelpoort

South Africa
2 min
Diamond mining in South Africa [IMAGE CREDIT: Shutterstock]
The province of Limpopo is a major asset in the mining industry, home to one of the largest platinum reserves in South Africa, one of the worlds largest...

The province of Limpopo is a major asset in the mining industry, home to one of the largest platinum reserves in South Africa, one of the world’s largest diamond mines, and a crucial source of South Africa’s coal resources. It is also currently home to community unrest, strikes, and violent protests. To address this unrest, South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi traveled to the mining town of Steelpoort in Limpopo’s Sekhukhune District Municipality to discuss these issues and make an attempt to quell growing tensions.

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According to reports, protests in Steelpoort have revolved around benefits that residents were promised to receive years ago as reciprocation for companies like Anglo American and Xstrata being awarded mining rights within the municipality. These reports indicate that those benefits include a “multimillion rand payment” to the community—instead, the area has seen continued unemployment.

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As Eyewitness News reports, Ramatlhodi met with community and mining officials to discuss these issues and the formation of a task force, which could work to improve skills and qualify able community members in the region for the type of work needed at these mines. The involved mining companies also promised to make 200 new jobs available for local workers in the Limpopo region:

Mineral resources spokesperson Phuti Mabelebele said, “The 200 jobs stem from vacancies that existed in the mines; and vacancies are going to be filled now. The community’s concern is that there is a need for a centralised job centre to be established so recruitment is fair and transparent.” 


While working toward a resolution, Ramatlhodi has also called for peace in Steelpoort, appealing for workers and community members to refrain from resorting to violence in their protests. 

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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

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