The more exciting development, however, is how mining companies across the globe are now thinking about the other natural resources that they have at their disposal.
In South Africa, mining companies need to leverage the energy resources available to them to reduce their reliance on Eskom and their exposure to the associated rapidly escalating energy costs. They also need to generate renewable energy, to reduce their carbon footprint, improving their ESG positioning.
These renewable energy resources should endure beyond the life of their mining operations to enhance the sustainability of the communities that surround them.
In Australia, developers have tapped into the country’s sunshine, land and strong winds, to build an entirely new export economy. Last year, Australia has deployed new renewables 10 times faster per capita than the global average, and four times faster per capita than in Europe, China, Japan or the US.
Australia has long been a net exporter of energy, with predominantly coal and gas equalling to around two-thirds of production. As the country’s energy sector transitions to a low-carbon future, however, it seeks to also transform its exports and become a renewable energy export superpower.
Creating ‘energy mines’
Could South Africa’s mining companies play a part in turning some of the vast tracks of empty land around mining operations into new “energy mines” that generate the electricity needed to power our continent?
Based on the World Bank Group’s research, South Africa has better energy intensity characteristics in both solar and wind potential than Australia.
If our mining industry could partner to replicate some of the initiatives that we are seeing in Australia, it could produce power outputs similar to the electricity being generated by South Africa’s newest coal-fired builds, at similar costs, which can be exported as far north of our borders as Kinshasa and the Copperbelt.
That would be a legacy that would endure and change the lives of millions for the better.