Mantashe: What govt learned from power struggle with mining industry

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There was a period in South Africa when government and industry were at loggerheads, but we learned that in this way no progress can be made, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe said during the Mining Indaba 2019 this week. 

“It is, therefore, very important for a country to avoid government and industry fighting each other. Then, what should be a professional relationship, becomes a power struggle and those power struggles never work,” he said. 

“There was also a fight around the Mining Charter. So we redefined mining not as a charter sector, but as an economic sector which must perform and grow in terms of gross domestic product (GDP).”

Mantashe further pointed out that, if there is a decline in one mineral, it reflects negatively on the whole mining sector. That is why attention must be given to all SA’s mineral resources – including coal.

“We say let’s invest in coal and clean coal production to resuscitate the role of coal in our mining industry,” he explained.

Furthermore, Mantashe again emphasised as he has consistently done during presentations at the indaba, that value needs to be extracted in SA from minerals mined here.

“Government must have a clear vision. We want to develop a fully transformed mining industry. Communities surrounding mines also need to get our attention. It cannot just be about extracting minerals,” he said.  

“Until the mining industry understands the reality of community benefits, we will have a problem all the time. With the new Mining Charter, our work in this regard is defined better. When we agree on the framework, we will together drive the mining industry.”

He added that, at the same time, the SA government must ensure that its regulations do not inhibit the development of the country’s resources.

“As government, we have to understand the mining sector and be able to work with the sector. We have to clean up the system of licencing to avoid delays and double licencing,” he explained.

“In the past, for instance, we had a BEE percentage requirement for exploration. Then we found this caused a lack of interest in exploration. We, therefore, realised that we must rather impose BEE targets at the point of mining production. We now encourage companies to do more exploration as that is the life blood of the mining industry.”

Mantashe pointed out that a challenge for government and the mining industry was the rehabilitation of mines.

“Where we mine, we must not leave scars on the land. We discovered in our research that leaving mines un-rehabilitated leads to illegal mining,” said Mantashe.

“So, when a mine is left, shafts should be sealed and companies should ensure the environment has been rehabilitated. Companies should not be going to court about this all the time.”
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