SA firm on mining empowerment targets

1 July 2010

While the mining industry has been given more time to consult on a new Mining Charter, the government still wants to see at least 26% of historically disadvantaged South Africans getting a stake in the country’s mining industry by 2014, says Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu.

A new mining charter was to be implemented in May, but Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said the adoption of the charter had been delayed to allow more engagement with industry.

She was speaking at the signing of the Stakeholders’ Declaration on the Mining Industry Strategy for Sustainable Growth and Meaningful Transformation in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Shabangu pointed out that the racial pattern of ownership of mining assets had not changed fundamentally since the advent of democracy in the country.

“We all agree on the imperative to transform the economy and to ensure that the economy is more inclusive. However, the transformation has been implemented in the mining industry over the past five years has left much to be desired.

“Other factors that adversely affect the competitiveness and meaningful transformation of the industry include the current shortage of requisite skills, and a lack of diversity and equitable representation in the workplace,” she said.

‘Second chance’

Business Day this week reports Shabangu as saying that black ownership of mines stood at about 9% – as opposed to the target of 15% by 2010 – with several empowerment deals being scrapped as a result of funding difficulties following the global economic crisis.

She said she wanted to give the industry a “second chance” to meet the 2014 goal, which was set in the 2002 mining charter, the paper says, adding that companies that failed to achieve the target could see their mining rights rescinded.

Fronting threat

Shabangu said that BEE “fronting” still remained a major threat to the broader transformation objectives of the Mining Charter.

“Such practices do not help the sustainability of empowerment initiatives in society. It is our collective responsibility to discourage, avoid and prevent such practices so as to put [empowerment] on a sustainable path,” she said, adding that in some instances, empwerment transactions were being put together merely for incorporating black people as tokens.

“Such unscrupulous practices are not in line with the spirit and the imperative of the transformation which is so badly needed in the sector,” she said.

Skills audit required

Shabangu added that a shortage of critical skills could undermine the industry’s ability to be competitive.

“Stakeholders have agreed to conduct skills audits and to assess institutional and organisational absorptive capacity by no later than September 2010, and to invest a certain percentage of annual payroll in skills development,” she added.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews

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