All in all, the outlook for mining companies in 2013 is extremely challenging — but by no means hopeless.
"There is a lot that companies themselves can do to improve their position, including recapitalising their businesses and strengthening their risk management. Operational and strategic risk management, focusing on high-impact and high-probability risk, could enable companies to put appropriate plans in place to mitigate their risk.
"And as I’ve said, companies that are willing to take the risk and try something new could well find that other African countries offer the silver lining currently lacking in South Africa."
Van Eck says companies with South African mining experience have a wealth of expertise that could prove invaluable beyond the country’s borders – and not just in the mining industry.
"Some of our existing clients are being extremely creative in exploring new avenues," she says. "There are mining supply and technical support companies that are moving into power station development and even farming. Innovative companies with an eye on future growth are not allowing themselves to stagnate. They are finding opportunity in chaos."