Ramatlhodi warns on mining licences

Johannesburg - The government is ready to tackle problems in the North West following a five-month strike in the platinum belt, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Thursday.

"Now that the crippling strike is over and peace is being restored, we will move in with security forces, human settlements, and health departments to assist and ensure that social services are implemented," he told delegates at the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) central executive committee meeting in Johannesburg.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) embarked on a strike at platinum mines on January 23 for a R12 500 monthly salary. The strike ended last week.

Ramatlhodi, appointed minister after the May general elections, said he had to intervene during the strike to facilitate negotiations.

"My assessment was such a long, dragging strike could not be allowed to continue," he said.

"It had to be stopped at all costs. I looked at the political space and saw that the ANC, SACP, government and even NUM were nowhere to be found... we were paralysed."

The government issues licences to mines with conditions, including that the minerals belong to the country, he said.

"Where there is non-compliance, we have remedies such as revoking the licences. However, our initial attempts are to try and find ways to get licence holders to comply," Ramatlhodi said.

Plans were in place to hold a mining indaba.

"The mining indaba would review the entire spectrum of the country's mining industry and how it could best be utilised to improve the lives of our people."

Last week it emerged in a Mail & Guardian report that he was in the process of relinquishing a stake the newspaper estimated at R20m in Atlatsa Resources, a black economic empowerment partner of platinum giant Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS].

This may have posed a conflict of interest while mediating in the strike, the publication reported.

The NUM has seen many of its members cross over to Amcu in the platinum sector.

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