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To ensure a successful just energy transition in South Africa’s mining sector requires a collective – and collaborative – effort by the public and private sectors, along with robust community partnerships.  

This was one of the messages emerging from a recent Just Energy Transition (JET) information-sharing workshop hosted by RIIS on behalf of the Mandela Mining Precinct, a public-private partnership created specifically to add impetus to the research and development strategy for the mining sector. The partnership is funded by the Minerals Council South Africa and the Department of Science and Innovation 

The event gathered together industry experts, researchers and trade union representatives for discussion around the imminent Just Energy Transition (JET) and its potential impact on the mining workforce.  

Keynote speakers included Wessel Botha (Enterprises University of Pretoria), Alex Khumalo (Minerals Council South Africa), Aradhna Pandarum (The Impact Catalyst/Presidential Climate Commission), Laura Harris (merSETA), Lehlohonolo Molloyi (MEMSA), and Lithakazi Nxiweni (RIIS).   

The presenters explored several critical issues, including South Africa’s unique climate change needs and the importance of balancing climate change initiatives with economic development policies. The workshop further explored critical issues around capacity, resourcing and skills for JET. This is particularly relevant for mining communities where the shutdown of coal-driven power plants will have long-term consequences. 

While the JET path has been mapped out, the transition itself requires a collaborative effort in order for South Africa to achieve its net-zero targets. The Minerals Council South Africa and its members are committed to participating in a just and responsible transition to a net zero-carbon economy with a prioritisation on climate resilient development.  

To sustain and deepen the knowledge sharing and collaboration that emerged during the JET workshop, a follow-up engagement and study tour are currently being planned. 

RIIS has a strong relationship with the Minerals Council South Africa and was a part of the team that crafted the blueprint for the Mandela Mining Precinct, which has the mandate to implement the South African Mining Extraction Research, Development, Innovation (SAMERDI) strategy and the Successful Application of Technology Centered Around People (SATCAP) programme, the latter being one of its core programmes.  

SATCAP aims to understand the effects, impacts and challenges of mining modernisation on people in the minerals sector, and lends support to the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda. RIIS has been the lead partner on one of SATCAP’s research projects since 2022,  together with a consortium of research and academic partners.