SAIMM honours Roger Dixon’s ‘unique contribution’
A guest post from SBPR (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Having worked at mining houses Anglo American and Anglovaal, Dixon joined SRK Consulting in 2004 – becoming chairman of the South African company in 2009. He is the third SRK chairman to receive this accolade; it was awarded to Dr Oskar Steffen in 1995 and Professor Emeritus Dick Stacey in 2008.
Approaching his 50th year in the mining sector in South Africa, Dixon said the Brigadier Stokes Award – bestowed for its recipients’ outstanding and unique contribution to mining – was a proud moment.
“The mining business, and the country as a whole, is of course very different now to what it was when I arrived in Welkom as a graduate in 1971,” said Dixon. “But there has been one constant in my journey, which is the quality of the people I’ve worked with and the excellent teams that we have created.”
He said he was fortunate to work with some of the sector’s leading visionaries, which led to his key role in developing the country’s first mechanised underground gold mine – the Target mine in the Free State province – from 1995. This was regarded as a pioneering technological step into 21st century mining practice.
Ever a team player, he has long been an active participant in the SAIMM, initiating the South African Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (SAMREC). He was also integrally involved in global efforts on this front, through the Committee for Mineral Reserves International Reporting Standards (CRIRSCO) – which he chaired in 2009 and 2010. In these efforts, he said, he worked ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with his expert colleague Dr Ferdi Camisani.
According to SRK managing director Vis Reddy, the company was inspired by Dixon’s passion to contribute to the future of the mining industry in a responsible and sustainable manner.
“For SRK, we are privileged to have someone like Roger as a senior leader and now as corporate consultant to our organisation, where he constantly challenges us to improve ourselves at every opportunity,” said Reddy. “During his tenure as chairman, he pointed us to the future of the mining industry; this included helping develop the next generation of mining consultants, embracing big data, technological advancement and highlighting the social challenges in the industry.”
He noted that SRK had its roots in mining, and this award to a third past-chairman cemented its strong association with recognised leaders in the sector.
“We want leaders in the mining industry to join our various teams and contribute towards making mining the positive force that it can be in South Africa,” said Reddy. “Technical development is vital to the mining industry, and we embrace in particular this element of what the Brigadier Stokes Award stands for.”
SAIMM President Mzila Mthenjane pointed to Dixon’s central role in the formation of the organisation’s Young Professional’s Council (YPC) – now a fully-fledged committee of the SAIMM.
“I have personally been inspired by professionals like Roger, which is why I’ve been committed to the SAIMM since graduating in 1992,” said Mthenjane. “I see his commitment to the country – closely aligned to a passion and care for the industry – as demonstrated through his many initiatives.”
He said the industry needed more leaders like Dixon, who could inspire South Africans to make a difference to society – making use of the country’s untapped mineral endowment.
Receiving the Brigadier Stokes Award at an online AGM of the SAIMM on 13 August, Dixon paid tribute to the great teams he worked in, “forming strong friendships and fantastic memories”. He concluded by noting the many young South Africans who had chosen the mining and metallurgical industry as their future career – but who currently had been unable to find a job or have been retrenched.
“It is to these young people that I dedicate this award,” he said.
Gerald Group resolves iron ore dispute with Sierra Leone
Gerald Group, the US commodity trader, will pay Sierra Leone $20mn and cede a 10% stake in an iron ore project as part of the resolution to a nearly two-year dispute that led to the shutdown of production, the two sides revealed.
Gerald's wholly-owned subsidiary SL Mining filed for arbitration in August 2019 over a royalty payment dispute and suspended the Marampa mine the following month. Sierra Leone's government responded by cancelling its mining licence.
As part of the agreement signed on Friday, Sierra Leone will take a non-dilutable 10% stake in a new company that will replace SL Mining and resume operations at Marampa by June 1, Gerald said in a statement.
Gerald will make two $10mn payments this year and will have the immediate right to ship its current stockpile of about 707,000 tonnes of iron ore, it said.
Both sides will withdraw their legal claims before the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the statement added.
Gerald’s chairman and CEO Craig Dean commented: "I am delighted that we have been able to resolve our differences and have a fresh start and new beginning with the government of Sierra Leone."
Sierra Leone's Mines Minister Timothy Kabba told a news conference on Tuesday that the agreement was a milestone for the country.
"Whatever the pain we may have borne or dreaded throughout these two years ... this outcome justifies our action," he said.
Gerald estimates that Marampa holds about 1 billion tonnes of iron ore with a potential lifespan of 30 years.
Back in 2019, Dean spoke with Mining about the development of Marampa and commented: "SL Mining offers a substantial opportunity for Gerald Group as our Marampa mine in Sierra Leone is set to deliver six million tonnes of high-grade iron ore during its operational life. If you analyse the iron ore market it has transformed, even from a couple of years ago when prices were very low. Now prices have stabilised we’re in a favourable position with our first shipments leaving for China.
"Our goal is to make ‘Marampa Blue’ an internationally recognised premium grade iron ore brand. We intend to expand the delivery of high-grade 65% iron ore concentrate to markets in Europe and Africa.”