The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is set to partner with the Limpopo government to establish two Special Economic Zones in the province, one focusing on logistics and coal beneficiation, the other on platinum beneficiation.
The DTI released its draft Special Economic Zones Policy and Bill during 2012 and invited the country's nine provinces to submit proposals for the establishment of Special Economic Zones.
"We are happy to report to this House that we are the only province to receive provisional approval for two Special Economic Zones," Premier Cassel Mathale announced during his State of the Province address at the legislature in Lebowakgomo on Thursday.
The first Special Economic Zone, Mathale said, would be at the border town of Musina, which serves as South Africa's main land entry port to the rest of Africa, and would focus on logistics and the beneficiation of coal.
The second zone, in the province's Greater Tubatse Municipality, would explore beneficiation of platinum group metals.
Mathale said a feasibility study was currently under way, with support from Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), on the viability of establishing a hydrogen fuel cell industry in the province.
The project, according to Mathale, had several potential benefits, including the possibility of providing a reliable source of electricity to local communities, as well as creating additional demand for platinum.
The Premier said work had already begun to institutionalize the two Special Economic Zones.
"In Tubatse, this includes the Department of Science and Technology, the private sector and our two universities in the province, while in Musina negotiations have started with Transnet and the land owners in order to ensure that we maximise the full potential of this mineral rich area."
De Beers to build new mine
Mathale also announced that mining giant De Beers would be investing handsomely to build and operate a new underground mine beneath the open pit Venetia mine in Limpopo.
When completed, Mathale said, the Venetia underground mine would replace the open pit mine as South Africa's largest diamond mine and extend the life of the resource until 2042.
"This is a long-term commitment to the future of South Africa and the largest by De Beers anywhere in the world. This is a strong sign of confidence in South African diamond and mining industry."
Mathale said the construction phase would create up to 1 000 new jobs, the majority of which will come from the local area, adding that most of the equipment to used would be sourced in South Africa, indirectly creating a further 3 000 jobs.