Stunning online mining map highlights far-reaching remaining mining potential

AmaranthCX's Paul Miller, interviewed by Mining Weekly's Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

12th April 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – AmaranthCX and its technology partner 1Map have collaborated to publish a comprehensive, online South African Mining Map, with electronic, all-commodity depiction.

The governments of other mining jurisdictions, including the governments of neighbouring African States, provide this information transparently to attract valuable mining investment – but not so the South African government, which is still taking very belated steps to procure a cadastre.

AmaranthCX founder and director Paul Miller displayed South Africa’s sizeable remaining mining opportunities – plus the huge opportunity loss suffered by this country – in a Zoom interview with Mining Weekly. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video, in which Miller displays his layered map and reveals mining opportunities second to none.)

His map goes a long way towards filling the hugely unfortunate information vacuum that has been in place since the introduction of South Africa’s mining and prospecting rights legislative framework in 2004.

The denial of transparency has cut off vitally needed economic growth and jobs – and cries out for immediate reform.

“We don't nearly have enough publicly available information. We live in a constitutional state that requires transparency from our government, but we get the exact opposite,” said Miller, who has painstakingly had to determine who has what, where, for what commodity and for how long.

The map shows farms underlaying prospecting rights or mining rights, and all the basic functionality that one would expect in a competently regulated mining jurisdiction to be provided free through a portal by the State itself.

“We don't have that. So we've come up with the best solution we can. It has a lot of prospecting rights, a lot of mining rights, and by no means do we guarantee that it's complete because we were dependent on obscure sources of data, but we think it's the best we can do under the circumstances,” said Miller.

Mining Weekly: Looking at the map points to South Africa suffering a huge opportunity loss. Just how substantial is this loss?

Miller: It's dramatic. No self-respecting mining jurisdiction that is serious about attracting mining capital fails to make information available to potential investors. We have to go and find where mining companies have done specialist studies as part of their environmental impact assessments, or environmental impact assessments, for fossils, and for historical relics. We have to get those reports and back solve from that where these mining rights are. It's bizarre that that is how we have to find this information.

If the use-it-or-lose-it principle applies, why are so many rights lying dormant?

It’s certainly not use it or lose it, and the reason appears to be that if you've got a prospecting right that’s coming up for expiry after five years, and you put in your renewal application, it just sits at the department. The way the regulations are specified is that if you have applied for renewal, you can continue to prospect. When you eventually get your renewal, it might be for a limited three-year period. There are prospecting rights held for an excess of 18 years when the legal maximum is eight, so explain that to me. Without any public information being made available, nobody can check up on these things. It’s the oldest trick in the book – you have a prospecting right, you know you have to renew it, you submit your renewal application, and you know full well that you'll get no attention from the department, because they’ve got such a major backlog. Unless you push for renewal, it won't happen, and then you can continue prospecting on the never-never.

Our economy has been largely built on mining, and what I see here is that development in mining is absolutely being stifled. Even though there are many possibilities, they're not being pursued.

One of the reasons we've made this available for journalists like yourself is in the hope that you will actually have a look at the map, see things and be reminded. For example, we have the mega mine gold prospecting right that was being hyped about ten years ago. There was talk of, I think, seven-million ounces of gold that could potentially be mined there. This is between Nigel and Heidelberg. It would have put thousands of underground mineworkers to work had it been developed. But there's no further information. We don't know if that prospecting right has expired. We don't know that a mining right might have been applied for. We don't know whether other potential buyers have come along and it's because it's owned by an unlisted company that has no obligation to make ongoing disclosure.

I also don’t know what has come of the mega mine project of Wits Gold. It existed once. If we go across to the West Coast of South Africa, we've got a major mineral sands project inland from where Tormin mines mineral sands. We don't know what's come of that, whether a mining right has been applied for, whether a mine might be built.

But worse, there are long-standing mining rights. In the Act, as I read it as a non-lawyer, if you are awarded a mining right, you're required to start mining activities within 12 months of being awarded that mining right. We've got mining rights that have been awarded seven, eight, nine years ago, but there's no apparent mining happening. For example, between the platinum group metals Waterberg project and the northern end of Mogalakwena are two mining rights to mine platinum. I think they were awarded in excess of seven years ago. There doesn't appear to be any actual mining happening there.

If the Department of Minerals Resources and Energy is the custodian of South Africa's mineral rights and is meant to govern them so that they are optimally exploited to the benefit of all South Africans, why are people being awarded mining rights and then not mining? We see it again in another area where there's a very significant fluorspar deposit over which a mining right has been granted but there's no mining happening.

One of the fundamental requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act was that you either need to exploit the mining right or the minerals underlying the mining right, or you should lose that mining right so that the next potential mining company could try. We’re certainly not seeing that and because there hasn't been the likes of this map available to the industry, nobody can interrogate these questions.


The comprehensive online South African Mining Map:

  • takes in 778 mines, 376 quarries and 279 other mineral properties indicated across all commodities;
  • maps out 933 mine and project tenement areas; and
  • is served up, by subscription, via a Web browser on any device, with no third party software required.

The map also has a choice of base layers – either maps or satellite photographs – with the farm boundaries and farm portion boundaries overlayed, and environmentally protected areas clearly indicated. There is also some simplified geology, with the map being updated from time to time as new information comes to light.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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