By Sharyn Macnamara

Mining and Technical Exhibitions (MTE) is back in the western limb chrome and platinum belt for a high impact combo showcase on 9 and 11 April 2024, in Mooinooi and Rustenburg respectively.


An aerial shot of the expanse of an MTE expo which saw 300 exhibitors deliversolutions to just under 1 000 visitors last year.

An aerial shot of the expanse of an MTE expo which saw 300 exhibitors deliver solutions to just under 1 000 visitors last year. Supplied by C-Chip

“Last year, the MTE combo shows in Mooinooi and Rustenburg saw our travelling expo concept host the largest number of suppliers and visitors over a three-day period that the company has ever hosted in the history of its thirty years in business. A total of over 700 mining professionals were engaged by over 58 and 134 companies exhibiting at the two shows respectively, showcasing the latest in mining tech and solutions,” says Andrew Macnamara, operations director at the company.

He explains, “The PGMs and chrome sectors of the industry are placed high on the MTE agenda due to the fact that South Africa is currently the biggest producer of PGMs  in the world; PGMs industry sales are the largest contributor to total mining sales in the country; and the chrome sector is strong despite major Transnet freight challenges, with South Africa being the world’s largest producer of chromite ore, having produced over an estimated 19 million tonnes in 2023 per the Minerals Council South Africa.”

PGMs were among commodities like coal, gold and iron ore that made up roughly 80% of South Africa’s commodity export revenue in 2023, which contributed to around 55% of the total value of South African merchandise exports in the first 11 months of the year. The Minerals Council South Africa recently reported, “Commodity export revenue was boosted by the rand that was, on average, almost 13% weaker against the US dollar in 2023 than the previous year. However, the support from a weaker currency was diluted by sharp falls of more than 40% in the dollar-based basket1 price of PGMs.”

The council also noted an estimated decline in PGMs production of 11% at 239.9 tonnes for 2023, based on the actual output data for the first nine months of 2023, due to load curtailment and operational challenges which impacted concentrators and smelters, resulting in increased work-in-progress inventory. Production is around 10.6% below pre-COVID-19 levels. A weak PGMs basket price environment amid concerns about future demand coupled with unreliable electricity supply and high price increases have added to the challenging environment in the country.

TE Rustenburg Expo 2023.

MTE Rustenburg Expo 2023. ©MTE

Despite this downturn in 2023, it has been forecast that the hydrogen economy and the drive towards clean and renewable energies will rebalance demand for the PGMs commodity basket in the long run. “Hydrogen, as a clean and versatile energy carrier, is gaining attention for various applications, including fuel cells used in transportation and power generation,” says the Minerals Council. PGMs like platinum, palladium, ruthenium and iridium are essential catalysts in hydrogen fuel cells.

PGMs strategic economic importance stands – internal combustion engines are still needed where platinum, palladium and rhodium are used in catalytic converter systems to promote the conversion of pollutants into less harmful compounds and although the use of palladium in fuel cells is waning due to the high cost of the metal, there is a slow substitution by other metals such as platinum and ruthenium.

Mzila Mthenjane, CEO of the Minerals Council at the recent Mining Indaba also noted that, “Global inflation seems to have turned the corner, and policy interest rates are expected to follow inflation as we move through the year. This should support global economic growth and underpin commodity prices,” which will positively impact the PGMs and other sectors in the economy.

Chrome industry – employment and production in South Africa 2013–2023.

Chrome industry – employment and production in South Africa 2013–2023. Supplied by Minerals Council South Africa FACTS AND FIGURES POCKETBOOK 2023

MTE opportunities

MTE therefore hosts its biggest show of the year in Rustenburg – in an area known as the Bushveld Complex, formed some two billion years ago – the world’s largest layered intrusion. This igneous body hosts more than half the world’s PGMs – platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium, and other associated minerals such as chromium, vanadium and refractory minerals.

On 9 April 2024, between 13:00 and 17:00, the Mooinooi Golf Club is the venue for MTE’s first leg of the combo tour. The area has significant platinum, chrome and ferrochrome reserves and is home to various mines that produce the minerals, including Tharisa Mine. Macnamara notes that this leg of the tour is particularly promising if 2023 is anything to go by, with the first nine months of the year having seen sales for chrome increase by 63.5% from 2022, and a total of 20 411 people employed directly.

Chrome production has maintained its stability, despite its Transnet woes with exports to China and Africa, predominantly. However, the Minerals Council maintains that exports to Africa can be misleading due to the fact that many chrome producers have been forced to use more expensive road freight through the Maputo harbour in Mozambique as Transnet has been unable to deliver to Richard’s Bay.

On 11 April 2024, MTE moves on to Rustenburg for the second show, to be held at the Impala Rugby Club, between 13:00 and 17:00. This expo will target visitors from Sibanye Rustenburg and Kroondal Operations, in addition to other operations in the area such those of the Impala Platinum (Implats) and Glencore mining companies. 

References: Basket consists of platinum, palladium and rhodium. Minerals Council South Africa FACTS AND FIGURES POCKETBOOK 2023.