Labour disputes, rising costs and slowing demand due to a stagnant global economy are the major issues faced by South Africa’s miners. How the country plans to address these challenges will be a key focus of the Investing in African Mining Indaba taking place in Cape Town this week.
More than 7 500 delegates, representing 1 800 international companies, will be in South Africa to discuss and debate mining interests in Africa.
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu told a Brand South Africa gathering at the Cape Sun on Sunday night that the transformation of the industry was fundamental to helping the country overcome its dual challenges of poverty and inequality, and ensuring that everyone benefited from South Africa’s mineral wealth.
The mining sector roundtable, hosted by Brand South Africa, KPMG and CNBC Africa, included a panel discussion about the opportunities for growth offered by transformation.
‘No plans to nationalise mines’
In a pre-recorded video address, Shabangu said improvements to the regulatory framework had been made with the intention of attracting investment, adding that the government had repeatedly reassured investors that it did not have plans to nationalise South Africa’s mines.
“The way to balance profit and social responsibility is to work together,” the minister said. “Partnerships are key.”
Shabangu urged investors to view transformation as a positive, not a negative factor: “See yourself as contributing to South Africa, the gateway to Africa”.
Miller Matola, the chief executive of Brand South Africa, said it was important to discuss ways to ensure the sustainability and success of what is a key sector of the South African economy.
“We must find ways to take advantage of opportunities that are presented by a continent that is clearly on the rise,” he said.
‘New solutions needed’
Godfrey Olifant, the deputy minister of mineral resources, said that although South Africa could do better, growth in the industry was strong and he was comfortable that “we are doing well”.
Rivalry between unions and the importance of beneficiation to employment creation were not new issues, Olifant said. The challenge was rather to find new solutions to old problems.
Change required commitment, he said, and it was time “to do something new”.
Also participating in Sunday night’s roundtable were Chamber of Mines of SA vice-president Khanyisile Kweyama, South African Mining Development Association president Bridgette Motsepe Radebe, and Leslie Maasdorp, president of the Southern Africa at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The organisers of the four-day Investing in African Mining Indaba say the event has injected more than R336-million in revenue into the Western Cape’s economy over the past five years, creating 3 000 direct or indirect jobs.
More than half of the delegates attending the event come from Africa, while 18% are from Europe, 12% from Australia, and 8% from North America.