The Northern Cape is the Future of South African Mining

After being laid off from her job as a quarry manager in South Africa, Shirley Hayes struck a deal with the owner of the nearby Blesberg mine: She would rehabilitate the abandoned site for free, and he would buy back whatever minerals she was able to extract. Fast-forward 20 years and Hayes’ company, SHiP Copper, is finalizing exploration on an 89,000-acre concession she was granted in 2009. Within two years, she plans to begin production on the first of 10 mines, which SHiP will operate using an innovative cluster mining model, bringing all ore to a central processing plant to reduce costs. The mines — which could generate up to $30 million in annual profits for around 70 years — will breathe new life into an underpopulated and overlooked region where centuries of mixed fortunes have been tied to mining. SHiP has not processed an ounce of copper yet, but already Hayes has become the darling of women’s empowerment in a male-dominated industry. Not that the glove always fits. “I am passionate about women,” she says, “but I’m even more passionate about every person who wants to go from rags to riches.”SOURCE: OZY

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