SA to develop mining rescue plan

29 May 2013

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu says she has instructed officials in her department to develop a rescue plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of South Africa’s embattled platinum and gold mining sectors.

Presenting her department’s budget vote in Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, Shabangu said these sectors had been negatively affected by persistent global market factors which had had an adverse bearing on their long-term viability.

“I have directed my officials to urgently explore all available avenues and develop a rescue plan, which will enable us to find appropriate government-wide measures for appropriate sector-wide responses, with particular focus on both supply and demand side interventions, in order to position them along a recovery path.”

Shabangu noted that the platinum and gold sectors were among the largest sectors of South Africa’s mining industry in terms of employment, investment and revenue generation.

A bilateral cooperation agreement with Russia would contribute significantly to the creation of a suite of interventions necessary to stabilise the platinum industry, she added.

Russia and South Africa signed an agreement on cooperation in the development of the platinum group metals (PGMs) industry during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Durban in March.

“I invite PGM companies to work with my department to leverage relations we have established with the Russian Republic,” she said.

In January, Anglo American Platinum announced its intention to restructure its business.

President Jacob Zuma and the chairman of Anglo American plc, John Parker, met recently in Pretoria and agreed to find sustainable interventions to enable business continuity and sustainability while preserving employment where possible.

Shabangu said she believed that by working together, a sustainable, discerning solution had been found – one she hoped the labour movement would consider favourably.

“This demonstrates and emphasises the importance of taking different stakeholders into confidence and opening to them a long-term window, which enables them to appreciate the dynamics of the inherently cyclical nature of the mining industry.”