Private chrome map launched to boost commodity insight
Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 8:59:35 PM
Mining Weekly
In doing so, the company is continuing the building of its version of a mining and prospecting cadastre in an effort to shine a light on a part of the industry that is currently clouded in mystery as no publicly available information of this kind is freely available.

The lack of freely available mining and prospecting cadastral information is impeding investment into particularly exploration, as prospectors find it increasingly difficult to attract speculative capital for projects in South Africa, AmaranthCX director and owner Paul Miller previously told Mining Weekly.

By mapping the chrome mines, AmaranthCX is also adding to its database of mining projects in South Africa, having previously announced its coal map in November, which adds to AmaranthCX’s existing manganese and kimberlite diamond maps.

“This map should especially be of use to industry participants in the current debate around a chrome ore export tax,” he says.

As of late, Miller has voiced concern for the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMRE) choosing not to publicly release mining and prospecting rights information, saying that such actions enable the covering-up of corruption, errors and incompetence.

In explaining the seriousness of the situation and lack of information coming from the DMRE, Miller points out that, in October 2010, the then Department of Mineral Resources loaded a data dump of raw information, from what he assumes must have been the National Mineral Promotion System (NMPS) – the predecessor to the currently used Samrad – on to its website.

Samrad is the current system for management of mining and prospecting right applications in South Africa, which he says is “almost entirely dysfunctional”.

The original data dump was “crude” and contained the then mining right and prospecting right applications per province, says Miller, who adds that the data included the application identification code, applicant name, type of application, status of application and most importantly the coordinates of the land area that was the subject of the application.

The data consisted of thousands of PDF pages, including, among others, 6 933 pages for Mpumalanga, 8 307 for Limpopo and 5 687 for the North West.

However, he says it did not include the commodities covered by the application or the relevant expiry dates and the coordinates used included a mixture of different coordinate systems.

“Fortunately George van der Walt of Geo-Consult International had the good sense at the time to download and save the data, as little did he know that the DMR would soon remove the data from their website and replace the NMPS with Samrad. George kindly provided the data to AmaranthCX,” reveals Miller.

Subsequently, Samrad was launched in May 2011 to much “fanfare”, only for the industry’s hopes to be “dashed” shortly thereafter, he says. Samrad – developed by IRCA Global (which specialised in health & safety consultancy, auditing and training) which had no known experience in delivering cadastral management systems, according to Miller – collapsed soon after launch.

Notwithstanding the Samrad fiasco, he says the 2010 raw data dump has proved to be a “treasure trove” of information. Miller says software utilities exist that can scrape PDF document data into spreadsheets, and coordinate systems can be translated and standardised and then painstakingly matched to surface cadastral land portions provided by the surveyor-general.

This baseline data, combined with some basic geological knowledge and the fact that post the 2014 implementation of the “one environmental system” saw increased disclosure for environmental and heritage reasons, "means AmaranthCX has been able to produce the first comprehensive map of all chrome projects and mines in the Bushveld Complex,” says Miller.

“This map should especially be of use to industry participants in the current debate around a chrome ore export tax.” chrome map launched to boost commodity insight
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