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Mining – The Challenges of Tomorrow

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Author Nisbet GY
ID P198601058

Description

At the outset I want to thank you for inviting a representative of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa to address you on the subject of mining and its future at this, the 13th Congress of the Council of Mining and Metallurgical Institutions. It is indeed a pleasure and an honour to be here. As many of you will recall, four years ago I, as the then President of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, had the privilege of hosting and welcoming you to the 12th Congress, the third such congress hosted by South Africa. The late Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, President of the 1930 Congress – the first to be held in South Africa – in his opening address foresaw the mining industry as “the most potent factor in spreading the benefits of civilisation over the sub-continent.” We have come a long way since those halcyon days but, as I noted four years ago, it still remains true that mines have been, and will continue to be, the missionaries of development in many, if not most, of the Third World countries. I have been asked to address you on the subject of “mining” and to let my imagination roam widely so that delegates can leave the congress with a broader vision than they brought on arrival. It is a tall order and in my attempt to fulfil it I ask you to cast your minds back 120 years to a sultry, rustic day when the first diamond was discovered in South Africa at the now famous town of Kimberley. At that time the South African economy, predominantly pastoral, was still at subsistence level. Almost overnight the ensuing diamond rush turned the then British- owned northern Cape Colony’s semi-desert scene into a hive of mining activity, every prospector bent on making his instant fortune. It was very little different, I am sure, to the gold rushes that hit California in 18+8, Australia in 1851, New Zealand in the 1860s. and the Yukon in the 1890s.