28 February 2011
South Africa’s new state-owned African Exploration Mining and Finance Company (AEMFC) is officially in business as its first mining project got under way in Mpumalanga on Saturday.
Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony of its first project, the Vlakfontein Coal Mine in Ogies, President Jacob Zuma was optimistic about the prospects of the company.
“Our state-owned mining company will have to ensure that its business contributes to sustainable development and the upliftment of the local communities within which it operates,” Zuma said.
“This means we should balance the opportunities for growth and development with ensuring that the social, environmental and economic impacts of mining, both positive and negative, are managed in an open and accountable way.
“I have no doubt that the board and management of AEMFC will ensure that the Vlakfontein project sets the benchmark for the many other projects which this company will be embarking on in the months and years to come,” said Zuma.
The Vlakfontein Coal Mine is expected to supply Eskom’s power stations.
South Africa has one of the richest reserves of mineral wealth in the world, valued at no less than R18-trillion.
The mining sector is a key component of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. By 2008, it accounted for around 35% or R1.5-trillion of the value of the exchange.
The mining industry employs more than 2.9% of the country’s economically active population, which is currently just below half-a-million direct jobs and a further half-a-million indirect jobs.