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Mining in Africa – why we ‘dig’ it!

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Mining in Africa



Africa is a mineral-rich continent with untapped value to be unlocked. Mining and metals remains one of the best performing sectors despite economic uncertainty – it is one of the industries that continues to attract investment and drive economic growth in most Africa countries – Wickus Botha, Mining & Metals leader


The African Continent is richly endowed with mineral reserves and ranks first or second in quantity of world reserves of bauxite, cobalt industrial diamond phosphate rock, vermiculite and zirconium. Gold mining is Africa’s main mining resource.


According to Wikipedia : “As of 2005”, strategic minerals and key producers on the African continent were:

Diamonds : 46% of the world, divided as Botswana 35%; Congo (Kinshasa) 34%; South Africa 17%; Angola, 8%.
Gold : 21% of the world, divided as South Africa 56%; Ghana, 13%; Tanzania, 10%; and Mali, 8%.
Uranium : 16% of the world, divided as Namibia 46%; Niger 44%; South Africa less than 10%.
Bauxite : (used for aluminium): 9% of the world, divided as Guinea 95%; Ghana 5%.
Steel : 2% of the world, divided as South Africa 54%; Egypt 32%; Libya 7%; Algeria 6%.
Aluminium : 5% of the world, divided as South Africa 48%; Mozambique 32%; Egypt 14%.
Copper (mine/refined) : 5% of the world, divided as Zambia 65%/77%; South Africa 15%/19%; Congo (Kinshasa) 13%/0%; Egypt 0%/3%.
Platinum/Palladium : 62% of the world, divided as South Africa 97%/96%.


Mining projects are actually very interesting – so much more than just “a hole in the ground”. Yes, there are the open-pit mines and the underground mines, obviously depending on what mineral/precious metal they are trying to extract. These new mines are often located in very remote places which means there is no infrastructure and this very often has to be constructed by the Mining Companies themselves in order to gain access to the mine. New roads are needed, railway lines need to be upgraded and in some cases new lines need to be built in order to transport the product to the nearest port for distribution to overseas markets for further fabrication. Port facilities also need to be upgraded, expanded and improved to allow for the storage of the product, prior to shipping.


So, as a result of new mines being built, infrastructure in the various countries is upgraded and improved. In addition to transport, adequate water and a regular electricity supply is needed to run the mines and more often than not, new electricity lines, power stations and substations are constructed to power the mine. Pipelines to carry water to the mine and new tailings dams to store water are also constructed. Mines that are located in remote locations far from towns and cities, also provide accommodation for their workers and families. Mining companies spend a lot of money on upliftment projects for the surrounding communities in the form of schools, clinics etc.


In Private Projects I research and follow Greenfield and Brownfield mining projects throughout Africa, including SADC and South Africa and there are currently 345 active mining projects on our database ………………… Just sayin’!






About Marlaine Andersen

I had been working for Leads 2 Business, as Deputy HoD for Private Projects for over 10 years and now I am still with L2B, working in the Customer Relations Department as Advertising Co-ordinator and Digital Designer. A radical change and a challenge, but I am loving it!

3 Responses

  1. Carmen Barends
    | Reply

    Didn’t realise the huge impact mining has on infrastructure and how many other projects it generates. Thanks Marlaine 🙂

  2. Lee Finch
    | Reply

    Interesting article Marlaine, also interesting to note how many active mining projects there are in Africa… tell me, what does “Greenfield and Brownfield” mining projects mean? I am unfamiliar with the term.

  3. Marlaine Andersen
    | Reply

    Thanks Lee. The meaning and difference between Greenfield and Brownfield projects can be summed up as follows : ..”Both the Greenfield Project and Brownfield Project relate to property construction. The difference is what kind of land the construction is located upon. A Greenfield Project is when construction is being done on brand new, untouched land. A Brownfield Project is when construction is being done on redeveloped, touched land.”

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