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South Africa Launches Circular Minerals Initiative to Boost Sustainable Growth

DSI and CSIR collaborate to drive circular economy strategies

by Adenike Adeodun

South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has launched the South African Circular Minerals and Metals Initiative (SACMMI), marking the first step in a series of government-led circular economy initiatives. The initiative, unveiled in Pretoria on April 11, aims to drive sector-specific strategies to promote sustainable resource management and support economic development.

This launch is part of a broader effort outlined in the science, technology, and innovation (STI) 2022 to 2032 decadal plan, which identified priority economic sectors for circular economy interventions. SACMMI is the inaugural program in this series, with two additional initiatives – the South African Circular Agricultural Initiative (SACAI) and the South African Circular Manufacturing Initiative (SACMI) – set to follow suit.

Professor Linda Godfrey, the manager of circular innovation at DSI and CSIR, emphasized the urgency of transitioning to a circular economy, stressing its significance beyond environmental concerns. She highlighted the social and economic imperatives, noting that the circular economy is crucial for addressing resource scarcity and fostering sustainable development. Godfrey underscored the role of universities and science councils in driving this transition, stating that they would play a pivotal role in developing and implementing innovative circular economy solutions.

The SACMMI initiative is designed to embed circular economy strategies within the National System of Innovation (NSI) and facilitate local and international partnerships. Its primary objective is to provide tangible benefits to South Africa’s mining sector while promoting sustainable resource management practices. Godfrey announced that DSI would soon issue calls for expressions of interest to host SACAI and SACMI, further expanding the scope of circular economy initiatives.

Godfrey clarified that the circular economy is not solely focused on waste management but rather emphasizes sustainable resource management to support economic development. She emphasized the need for evidence-based decision-making and policy development, highlighting the role of STI in driving innovation and scaling circular interventions. Godfrey stressed the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in advancing circular economy goals.

Julie Courtnage, executive director of the Mandela Mining Precinct (MMP), emphasized the importance of collaboration in advancing circular practices and technologies in the minerals and metals sector. Courtnage emphasized the need for “radical collaboration” to overcome barriers and accelerate the adoption of circular practices. She underscored the critical role of partnerships in driving innovation and fostering a competitive mining sector.

Courtnage outlined plans for stakeholder workshops to develop a national research agenda and substrategy for circular minerals and metals. These workshops will address research gaps and identify key stakeholders, aiming to build a network of STI partnerships. Courtnage highlighted the importance of the critical minerals space within the circularity agenda, emphasizing its impact on sector competitiveness.

DSI technology innovation deputy director-general Mmboneni Muofhe reiterated government’s commitment to mainstreaming the circular economy across sectors. Muofhe emphasized the involvement of the private sector, government, and civil society in driving this process, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in achieving circular economy goals.

The launch of SACMMI marks a significant milestone in South Africa’s efforts to promote sustainable resource management and drive economic development through circular economy principles. With a focus on embedding circular strategies within key economic sectors, SACMMI aims to harness the potential of STI to address resource scarcity and promote sustainable growth. As the initiative unfolds, collaboration between stakeholders will be crucial in achieving the goals of a circular economy in South Africa.


Source: Mining Weekly

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