10 February 2015
South Africa’s government is committed to expanding its mining industry, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“South Africa is ready for investment,” Ramathlodi told the conference. “We are leaving no stone unturned in providing a stable environment for investment.”
South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum and the seventh largest producer of coal.
After his address to the conference, attended by 7 000 of the world’s mining executives and stakeholders, the minister joined Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and other high-level panelists at an “investment dialogue”.
Hosted by Brand South Africa, the panel focused on ways to drive competitiveness of South Africa’s mining sector.
Emphasising the need to establish regulatory stability, Ramathlodi said the government was working with speed to finalise amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Bill.
In January, President Jacob Zuma returned proposed changes to the 2002 Act back to the National Assembly on the grounds that they may violate the Constitution.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said diversification was key for African markets – including South Africa – if they were to achieve growth.
“If we are to create a boom for mining, we must create a demand from Africa as well,” Davies said.
There are “inherent competitive qualities” in the minerals chain, which South Africa must harness, he said. “We must use our minerals in a way that benefits African economies.”
The government has invested heavily in developing minerals beneficiation projects, including using platinum to develop fuel cells and a project that turns mineral sands into titanium powder. “We are ready to rock and roll on this,” the minister said.
Davies said a process was already under way to align charters and codes. The government would soon create the post of a commissioner to enforce Black Economic Empowerment regulations – and prevent “fronting”, where BEE points are being claimed but the processes are not implemented.
The government would also move “with speed” to tackle energy constraints currently affecting the country.
Davies said he was confident that the energy war room would tackle the country’s energy problems, with maintenance of the infrastructure high on the agenda.
The government was also conducting a “significant” build of energy-generating resources. Medupi power station, for example, would generate more electricty than Nigeria once it came online, Davies said.
Mike Teke of the Chamber of Mines said the industry was committed to delivery – especially on the social and labour fronts. “We have seen great successes, but there is room for improvement,” he said.
To solve labour issues and to avoid a repetition of the protracted and violent strikes that have crimped growth in the industry would require all parties to work together.
“We all need one another – mining, regulator, trade unions, mine bosses,” Peter Bailey of the National Union of Mineworkers said. “We must do things differently . If we take hands, we all have a responsibility to ensure this industry remains a sunrise industry rather than a sunset industry.”
Gideon du Plessis of the union Solidarity told the audience that “the time for mining is now”.
“We must make progress,” he said. “This is a promising country. And a promising industry.”
The Mining Indaba is an important event for Cape Town, bringing more than R500- million in direct revenue to the city over the past eight years, creating 4 500 direct and indirect jobs and selling 20 000 hotel nights.
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