The integral role that the mining sector plays in South Africa requires smart and agile thinking to support entities across the entire the value chain, and importantly the communities linked to mining operations.
This is according to Axola Myendeki, Acting General Manager Commercial & Industrial, of leading fuel company Astron Energy, which is participating in this week’s Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
The 2024 Mining Indaba takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre under the theme Embracing the Power of Positive Disruption for a Bold New Future for African Mining.
Myendeki says the fuel company is deeply cognisant of the importance of “creating a future together” with all key stakeholders, particular host communities, as this was key to long-term sustainability.
Astron Energy is a significant contributor and key enabler to the mining and energy sectors in South Africa. The company has a commercial offering through the supply of fuel, oil and lubricants for a wide range of use across the mining sector.
The restarted Astron Energy refinery in Milnerton is critical in being able to supply a significant portion of the country and mining industry’s product needs. South Africa consumes around 25 million barrels of crude per annum and Astron Energy, through its refinery and through its import of finished product, is a significant contributor in meeting this demand.
The mining industry is still a bedrock of the South African economy and poised to be among the world’s key sources of green energy metals and minerals such as copper, cobalt, lithium and nickel in the coming years. These are all used in the manufacture of renewable energy sources such as electric vehicle batteries.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) said the mining sector made up more than half of exports in the first six months of 2023, amounting to around $30 billion.
The sector, despite strong headwinds, also still employs nearly half a million people, making it crucial to the socio-economic wellbeing of the country.
Myendeki says Astron Energy recognises that the company and mining sector’s long-term success is intricately tied to the socio-economic environment in which it operates.
“This is why we collaborate with our customers on empowerment initiatives in the mining sector to support previously disadvantaged individuals, black-owned enterprises, as well as local communities,” Myendeki said.
“We are a proudly South African company and believe in creating a future together. We are committed to enabling our mining customers to operate in a safe, reliable and sustainable manner.”
A key component of supporting small to medium sized enterprises (SMMEs) is the Astron Energy Development Fund (AEDF) which was set up in line with commitments made to the Department of Trade Industry and Competition.
The AEDF seeks to create sustainable and meaningful change and prosperity for micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (SMME) along the Astron Energy value chain, including the critical mining sector.
“We understand that the SMME sector is crucial to economic growth, job creation and shared prosperity in South Africa,” Myendeki added. “This is particularly so in under-resourced communities around our facilities, as well as where we partner with customers in the mining sector.”
He said Astron Energy was also continually looking at new ways to unlock value for customers in the mining sector to ensure greater efficiencies and to realise untapped potential.
“The Indaba offers us the opportunity to engage with key customers, to understand their needs and the issues affecting the industry, and to see how best we can assist in co-creating solutions.”
He cited the example of working with fleet owners to reduce the total cost of downtime servicing intervals through proactive early detection systems.
“This all forms part of our bespoke value offering to mining customers to keep the wheels of the industry turning, thus supporting jobs and livelihoods and contributing to the growth of the South African economy,” he concluded.
Astron Energy operates a network of over 800 service stations in South Africa, alongside its refinery in Milnerton, Cape Town, a lubricants manufacturing plant in Durban, 15 terminals, and 180 commercial and industrial sites.