7 February 2012
South Africa will not nationalise its mines, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday, welcoming the report of an African National Congress (ANC) task team that reaffirmed that nationalisation was “not a viable policy” for the country.
The Mining Indaba is regarded as the world’s largest mining investment conference and Africa’s biggest mining event.
Shabangu said that in the midst of “this debate about nationalisation, we have consistently maintained that nationalisation is not the policy of the ANC or the government of South Africa.”
She added that “when all is said and done, the ANC will adopt a policy position on this issue that is in the best interest of South Africa.
“Furthermore, we have consistently maintained that were it not for the mining industry lagging behind in terms of implementing the provisions of the Mining Charter … this debate would not have been there in the first place.”
She said the ANC task team report, which reinforced the party’s earlier decisions that nationalisation was “not a viable policy for South Africa”, came as no surprise.
“It demonstrates the consistent but pragmatic policy that has guided the ANC over many decades, including the period of the adoption of the African Charter in 1955 and, even more recently, the period after 1994.”
Minerals beneficiation ‘critical’
On a separate matter, Shabangu said that beneficiation of the country’s minerals was a critical component of the industrial and economic development framework.
“It is the vehicle through which South Africa’s resource-based comparative advantage can be transformed into a national competitive advantage. To this end, a beneficiation strategy has been developed to maximise the returns from the exploitation of our mineral resources.”
Shabangu said that the beneficiation policy identified five pilot mineral value chains which included iron ore and steel, energy and titanium.
“It is not our intention to force mining companies into being manufacturers, but rather to address the challenges of the inaccessibility of our raw materials as an impediment to greater local beneficiation.”
She indicated that she was happy with some of the initiatives taken by some companies to support the beneficiation strategy. “This work demonstrates their commitment to South Africa.”
Mine health and safety
On mine health and safety, Shabangu said the government remained “gravely concerned” about the continued loss of lives at the country’s mines.
She said the latest figures showed that fatalities in the industry had dropped by 3 percent from 127 in 2010 to 123 in 2011.
“Already this year, there have been 13 fatalities in the mining sector. The recent spate of fatalities is also a reflection of some CEOs’ refusal to make meaningful changes and take personal responsibility for health and safety issues.
“Some of them value profits more than the lives of the people.”