Time was when Mineweb.com, based in South Africa and owned by South Africa’s Moneyweb, run by well known journalist Alec Hogg, was arguably the world’s top independent international mining industry website. It was edited and managed by myself out of London and carried international mining sector coverage perhaps unequalled anywhere in the world at the time. We had some great internationally-based writers and it was supported by advertising from mining and associated companies from several countries – and in at least one year its revenues were such that they were instrumental in keeping its parent company viable. The bulk of its income came in in US and Canadian dollars which for a company domiciled in South Africa, with a depreciating domestic currency, was doubly valuable.
Recently, having been asked by several people what had happened to the site, I clicked on Mineweb.com to see how it was faring, to find it was nowadays only a subsection of its parent, Moneyweb.co.za, and was only publishing a handful of articles. The first featured article on the Mineweb site’s homepage was a Reuters article on Anglo American’s 2016 performance, dated January 26th, almost 6 months earlier and the second featured article was also a Reuters story on Goldman Sachs’ copper price predictions for 2017 – which was even older!
Scrolling down through the site I did find a couple of articles written in the current month, both Reuters stories on Sibanye Gold’s Cooke Section problems, but it appears that original articles written by Mineweb reporters are nowadays effectively non-existent- or at least that is the way it appears.
So what happened to Mineweb? The initial nail in its coffin was that Alec Hogg lost control of the parent company and was ousted from its board. (Alec has since set up, and runs, www.biznews.com – a direct competitor to Moneyweb in South Africa). I was still editor of Mineweb at the time, but was soon replaced in that position by Warren Dick in Johannesburg and became just a correspondent for the site. Our key Reno-based writer, Dorothy Kosich was let go and my position gradually became untenable as the site became more and more South African focused and we agreed to part ways. That left one directly employed internationally-based writer, Kip Keen in Canada, and eventually he was let go too.
Most of the mining based advertising had disappeared, along with our key advertising salesperson, Jan Chadwick, who resigned when she saw the direction the site was taking. She is now semi-retired occasionally helping out her husband, John Chadwick on mining conferences for his own mining publication, International Mining, now probably the world’s top mining monthly magazine.
So Mineweb still exists, but only as a section on its Moneyweb parent site, and publishes little of its own material, relying primarily on the Reuters and Bloomberg services for its articles with occasional input from its parent company’s correspondents on South African mining matters – and even then, as with the Sibanye articles mentioned above it may well use one of the international wire services. That, in my opinion, is a great shame. Its readership outside South Africa is a tiny fraction of what it used to be – there can now be few, if any, international readers who have Mineweb as their own initial go-to webpage, and its independent editorial coverage of the global mining sector is mostly long gone. A cautionary tale about what happens to a niche business when it is taken over by a much larger company which doesn’t see it as a core part of their operation!