Mining minister Mantashe boasts to global investors about ‘new SA mineral’ that doesn’t exist

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe delivers his department's budget vote speech in parliament. FILE PHOTO: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

He says he’s not angry with his speech-writers after they mistakenly included information from an April Fool’s joke in his address.

At a mining conference in Australia, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe reportedly expressed his enthusiasm about a new mineral that has been discovered in the Western Cape that he said “will be crucial in the manufacturing of battery storage technologies”.

Unfortunately, the minister was speaking about a resource that doesn’t actually exist, and was made up as an April Fool’s joke by Smart Energy International.

Business Day reports that as part of his speech he mentioned that the battery mineral “Hazenile” had been “discovered in abundance” in the “Congo [sic] caves”.

This information came from an article from April 1, which Smart Energy International clearly indicated was a hoax at the top of the piece.

“This was an April Fool’s joke. We hope you had a laugh along with us,” it said in bold, red lettering, after initially running it without the disclaimer.

Another clue that it was a hoax is that there are no Congo caves in the Western Cape. It was likely a play on the Cango caves, which can indeed be found there.

Mantashe told The Citizen that he felt it was unfortunate that the media would choose to focus on “one sentence in an eight-page speech”.

He added that it was the only mistake in an otherwise accurate speech, and that he spoke about many other genuine minerals.

“Write a story about my speech and highlight the hoax. It’s not all that we spoke about. It is one sentence in a speech that was well received,” he said.

He added that he was not angry with the team who wrote the speech for him.

“My young economists will learn out of the mistake,” he said.

Mantashe’s department, meanwhile, told Business Day that following the speech Mantashe had met with 20 investors who “reiterated their commitment to investing in SA”.

They also called the story “fake news”, when it was actually an April Fool’s joke, a form of institutional hoax carried out each year by most news publications, which would not fit the definition of “fake news”, as the stories are revealed to be a joke by the end of the day, as opposed to being the deliberate spreading of misinformation.

“It’s unfortunate that the focus is being shifted to what has now been confirmed as fake news on one mineral by a site which normally carries reliable information on the sector”.

Mantashe was speaking to roughly 400 investors at the Africa Down Under mining conference in Perth.

His speech mainly expressed that SA is open for business and highlighted our country’s massive mineral wealth deposits.

(Edited by Daniel Friedman)

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