China, which is gearing up to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy, has revealed that its once-in-a-decade census conducted in 2020 showed a marked slowdown in birth rates, with the population growing slightly to 1.412bn.

According to the data collected, 12m babies were born last year, down from 14.65m in 2019.

What is interesting to note from the data is that China’s working-age population — which is defined as people aged between 16 and 59 — had also declined (by 40m), as compared to the last census in 2010, to 880m.

However the fertility rate in Africa is far from slowing down — with some countries on the continent scoring some of the highest fertility rates in the world, including Niger (almost seven children per woman), Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Chad.

But what does China’s slowing population growth mean for the world in the coming years, and how will this affect the country’s voracious appetite for commodities?

A slower population growth is expected to result in lower production rates and pricey goods, among others.

A slower population growth is expected to result in lower production rates and pricey goods, among others

For the past few decades, while China has driven global demand with its GDP growth averaging between 6% and 8% per annum, resource-rich countries in Africa have reaped the benefits in fuelling the economy of the world’s most populous nation.

Addressing delegates to the virtual PGM day, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe said the PGM sector had raked in a whopping R190.4bn in revenue for 2020 (pg 20). And to gain a clearer understanding on exactly how much the advancing world is relying on PGMs in shaping the world we live in, flip through to insights by the WPIC (pg 22).

Meanwhile, runaway electricity prices coupled with never-ending power supply constraints have seen the mining industry pressuring government to do away with the red tape hampering energy self-generation. The Minerals Council South Africa (MCSA) continues to back regulatory reforms to streamline the process of regulatory approvals and licensing on electricity self-generation. 

According to MCSA’s Roger Baxter, self-generation projects have the potential to contribute significantly towards easing electricity supply constraints in SA while simultaneously improving the competitiveness of the mining sector by reducing the cost of electricity and the industry’s carbon footprint.

Gold miner Gold Fields recently got the ball rolling with a R660m investment in the development of a solar plant at the South Deep mine.

Komatsu is also busy developing battery-operated machines

And our cover story, the Komatsu Underground Soft Rock division, which is largely focused on coal mining, continues to roll out its direct service model, which has proved to be extremely beneficial especially in the face of the setbacks associated with Covid-19.

Komatsu is also busy developing battery-operated machines and reports that the first of these will be delivered to a coal miner in SA as early as 2022 (pg 8).

Nelendhre Moodley

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