SA remains highly attractive for investment in mining, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said in Parliament on Tuesday.
He took part in the debates on President Cyril Ramaphosa's recent State of the Nation Address.
If you laugh you don't know
"If you are laughing you are not knowing," he told some members of Parliament, who were laughing at his view that the local mining sector remains attractive for investors.
According to Mantashe, a secure energy supply is the most important factor to address for the mining industry.
"Every time there is load shedding, mines only produce a maximum of 70% of their capacity," he said.
Furthermore, the price of electricity is another key factor for the industry.
"We must put our efforts to turn mining around. The primary sectors of the economy are very important to build the future," he said.
He added that various mining projects are in the pipeline. These have the potential to create thousands of jobs and include about 10 exploratory projects.
"Despite a decline in mining production, the smaller mineral groups continue to grow, for instance the minerals involved in cleaner energy," said Mantashe.
"There are early positive signs, statistics show, but the availability of electricity supply is key. It is very important to ensure we do not destroy what we have because we dream of having something new in future. A balanced approach to our energy system is very important."
Mantashe also sees opportunities in the petroleum industry and in mineral beneficiation.
First investors, then jobs
During the debate, leader of the Congress of the People (COPE) Mosiuoa Lekota said no economy can create jobs without investors, and for South Africa those investments must be in mining and agriculture.
He referred the estimated billions of rands' worth of gold that had been removed by so-called Zama Zamas (illegal miners).
"These Zama Zamas used to be working people who have not forgotten where the gold was. They are now illegally mining because they are unemployed due to people who were threatened that their properties would be taken (and therefore stopped mining operations)," said Lekota.
"If these (Zama Zamas) had legitimate work, they would not now have been chased by the police.
"But it is not too late to say to potential investors, please come and invest in SA in these properties and employ these Zama Zamas, who will work and earn their money to keep their families going - and we would have billions in tax."