Fresh opportunities for the Waterberg

Despite the fact that it sits on vast mineral reserves, the Waterberg region is challenged by high poverty and unemployment.

The national infrastructure development plan presents new opportunities for the region.

Rich resources in the north-eastern and western parts of the district, Lephalale’s extensive coal reserves, Thabazimbi’s iron ore and platinum reserves in the Mokopane and Northham areas are attracting investor interest.

But the region hopes the real beneficiaries of this growth will be its unemployed youth and businesses that have long needed a boost.

“Like any other mining area, beneficiation has become a burning issue.

“Discussions with mining houses are taking place to come up with concrete plans for beneficiation, especially on tradeable goods and services,” says Pat Malete, divisional manager: communication, inter-governmental relations (IGR) and protocol at Waterberg District Municipality.

Emelda Malatji, local economic development officer at the Mogalakwena Local Municipality, says: “The mining sector economic indicators for 2009, as reported by Kayamandi calculations from Quantec Research 2011, states that the mining sector in Mogalakwena municipality has a significant share in the employment of persons within the municipality, being responsible for 11% of the labour force. This amounted to roughly 5 650 jobs within the mining sector for the year 2009.”

In addition, she says mining activities in Mogalakwena Municipality contribute to 25% of Waterberg district’s total employment by the sector, as well as providing 13% contribution to the GDPR.

The mining sector in Mogalakwena municipality has shown the margin growth of 0,2% within the average of gross domestic product per region growth a year, indicating stagnation in terms of production or decline in international prices, says Malatji.

Malete says some of the region’s challenges are unemployment and a lack of skills. Poverty levels are high, 4.7% of households depend on grants, most schools are within the poorest quintile and there is a severe lack of skills among the region’s youth.

“A skills development strategy commissioned by the Waterberg District Municipality has identified a serious skills gap in the region. Mining houses and the department of education have been engaged to provide skills at Waterberg FET College to provide education [through a curriculum] relevant to the mining industry,” says Malete.

“Municipalities have been engaged through the IGR Forum to spend on MIG [municipal infrastructure grant] to create job opportunities for the unemployed, and business formations have been engaged to take advantage of the SIP1 in order to create job opportunities for the residents of Waterberg.”

In addition, the Waterberg District Municipality is in the process of resuscitating the Waterberg Economic Development Agency, set to launch next month in the hopes that it will act as a catalyst for economic development and job creation.

However, mining growth presents the big hope for development of the region.

Malatji says: “Various possibilities exist for the development of mining related activities such as beneficiation practices, mining supplier park, training and skills development in the Mogalakwena Municipality.

“The creation of linkages with mines in the area and the province as well as inter-provincial linkages may increase the base for economic diversification and growth opportunities.”

The region also looks forward to the emergence of new mining communities, with associated housing development and economic growth.

A green fields city

SIP 1: Unlocking of the northern mineral belt, with Waterberg as the catalyst in Limpopo entails investment in rail, water pipelines, energy generation and transmission to tap Limpopo’s rich mineral reserves, and will be co-ordinated by Eskom.

Its focus includes:
• Unlocking mineral resources
• Rail, water pipelines, energy generation and transmission infrastructure
• Unlocking thousands of direct jobs across the areas
• Urban development in Waterberg — first major post-apartheid new urban centre will be a “green” development project
• Rail capacity to Mpumalanga and Richards Bay
• Shift from road to rail in Mpumalanga
• Logistics corridor to connect Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

This article forms part of a supplement paid for by KPMG. Contents and photographs were sourced through and signed off by KPMG

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday