A positive wind: South African Government making peace with mining industry
The difficult relationship between the SA government and the mining industry is starting anew, but more work is needed to address regulatory complications that threaten business, says Neal Froneman, Chief Executive of Sibanye Gold.
“There is a positive wind blowing over South Africa,” Froneman told analysts.
“Our engagements with government has taken a turn for the positive.”
The relationship between the government and the mining sector seemed to reach a testing point following the appointment of the new Minerals Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, last October.
Zwane’s appointment was met with a mixed reaction but Froneman believes that his relationship with mining executives has been positive.
“He engages and this is different to previous ministers,” he said.
“We were worried about his knowledge of the mining industry. He has been engaging and has a good understanding of the issues facing the industry.”
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Vale announces first ore at Voisey’s Bay mine extension
Vale has achieved first ore production at the Voisey’s Bay mine extension. Home to one of the largest nickel deposits in the world, Voisey’s Bay has been producing nickel from an open-pit operation since 2005. The transition to underground involves the development of two underground mines.
Reid Brook and Eastern Deeps are extending the life of Vale’s Labrador operations and achieving production of 40,000 tons of nickel in concentrate at a peak annual production rate of 2.6 million tonnes by 2025, with about 20,000 tonnes copper and 2,600 tonnes of cobalt as by-products. The project is 65% complete, with executed capital expenditures of $1.26bn and Eastern Deeps start-up is expected for 2022.
Voisey’s Bay is recognised as the safest mine in Canada
“Our Voisey’s Bay operations, and indeed our entire operating footprint in Newfoundland and Labrador, represent an incredible story of Indigenous participation, economic capacity building, environmental responsibility and safety performance,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale.
Voisey’s Bay Mine is a multiple winner of the John T. Ryan Award recognising the safest mine performance in Canada – receiving the honor again in 2021. Faced with the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, the Mine Expansion Project followed suit, reaching first ore production with zero lost time injuries since construction began in 2018.
Indigenous workers are key to Vale’s success
Indigenous participation is a hallmark of the Voisey’s Bay operation, enjoying a collaborative relationship with its Indigenous partners, Innu Nation & Nunatsiavut Government, on whose traditional lands the Voisey’s Bay Complex is located.
Since the Voisey’s Bay mine expansion project began in 2018, Innu and Nunatsiavut Inuit employment has more than doubled to approximately 500 employees and 65% of all procurement contracts for the project were awarded to Indigenous-owned businesses. The ability to mine and process ore from underground will continue to generate local employment, procurement, capacity-building and shared benefit for many years to come.
Nickel, Copper & Cobalt
Ore produced at Voisey’s Bay is processed at Vale’s Long Harbour, one of the world’s lowest emission nickel processing plants. The sustainably-produced, responsibly sourced nickel, copper and cobalt products will help meet future customer demand in the electric vehicle and clean energy space as industry seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower carbon footprints.
The production of first ore production at Voisey’s Bay represents Vale’s commitment to the continued delivery of quality, predictable and responsibly sourced material to market with safety, capacity-building and Indigenous participation at the forefront.