South African Institute of International Affairs
South African Institute of International Affairs Resources
South Africa is endowed with substantial subsoil mineral wealth, yet the development promise typically associated with this wealth has not been realised. Between 2001 and 2008 the South African mining industry contracted at a rate of 1% a year, while comparable mining jurisdictions grew at an average of 5% a year.1 This period marked the longest commodity price boom in recent history.
Natural sand from estuary and coastal land is one of South Africa’s most valuable resources. However, there has recently been a drastic increase in uncontrolled and unauthorised sand mining activities in rivers, valleys and estuaries throughout the country. The frameworks governing small-scale sand mining in South Africa lack the necessary financial and human resource capacities to support better environmental compliance, and the enforcement mechanisms to successfully deter illegal activities are weak.
From as early as the 1960s companies have been exploring the natural resource wealth of Mozambique. However, it is only in the past decade that the potential of these resources has been realised. Indeed, Mozambique is now thought to have some of the largest deposits of gas and coal on the African continent, and beyond. The country is also one of Africa’s few post-conflict success stories and has experienced unprecedented positive economic growth since 1994, exceeding the growth of many of its peers across the continent.
Recent figures from globally established indices reveal diverging perceptions about the state of transparency and corruption in South Africa.
China’s impressive inroads into Africa’s resources sectors over the past decade are explained largely by the timely match between a cash-loaded China in search of raw materials and a continent with a vast pool of underdeveloped mineral deposits, exploration of which has been hindered for decades by underinvestment and infrastructure bottlenecks. Chinese ‘infrastructure-for-resources’ loans are ultimately a product of the convergence of Chinese and African interests at the dawn of the 21st century.