SA: Mining industry can do more for the people

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Pretoria – While South Africa’s mining industry is one of the biggest contributors by value to Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), more still needs to be done in other areas such as skills development, community upliftment, improving housing and living conditions, beneficiation and ownership.

This is according to Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who was speaking at the 9th International Mining History Congress held in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Motlanthe said the recent economic crises had shown that there should be more state involvement in the industry.

“Contrary to the view that there must be less state involvement in the economy, the lessons from recent economic and financial crises corroborate our enduring position that more state involvement is sought to secure orderly socio-economic development of its citizenry.”

Motlanthe added that to this extent, government had endorsed the existing African Exploration, Mining and Finance Corporation (Pty) Ltd (AEMFC) as the nucleus for the state owned mining company.

The first of AEMFC’s mining projects, the Vlakfontein Coal Mine, got underway in February last year.

The AEMFC provides a basis for greater and consolidated participation of state in mining, with a particular focus on ensuring security of supply of minerals of strategic significance, such as energy commodities (coal and uranium) and minerals that constitute input into the broader industrialisation programme such as iron ore, said the Deputy President.

“The establishment of a state mining company is intended to compete on an equal basis with other mining companies and compliment the resuscitation of the mining industry in the country, as private sector exploration investment has been steadily declining since the democratic dispensation, despite the quantified residual potential in the country,” said Motlanthe.

He said the South African economy remained essentially resource-based, benefiting significantly from the contribution of mining.

Government’s vision was a mining industry that was growing, increasingly diversified, increasingly inclusive, and a growing stimulus for the economy as a whole.

“We have since 1994 transformed the legislative framework through the enactment of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act drawing on international best practice in helping the country to realise a just value for extracted minerals, while at the same time, allowing for private investment in mining.

“This framework, including legislation on royalties, ensures that the country is compensated for the permanent loss of non-renewable commodities through mining. It is a framework that comprehensively addresses the regulatory environment for the mining industry,” said Motlanthe.

He added that following this legislation, South Africa has seen meaningful participation of the previously disadvantaged people in the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we can achieve our common vision for economic growth and development. And we must all understand that, given the hard legacies of inequality and joblessness, we cannot simply separate out our economic interests from social and political realities.”

Source: BuaNews – 18 April 2012