The mining industry required long term commitment to South Africa and should not be viewed as a “quick money making scheme”, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has said.
Speaking today at The New Age business briefing in Fourways, Johannesburg, Shabangu said some black entrepreneurs needed to change the way they viewed the industry.
“It’s our black brothers... who come into this sector and see it as a quick money making scheme,” she said.
She said some people began as miners but worked their way up until they made millions.
“Today they have decided to sell their assets and pull out and today they are out there doing terrible things which are an embarrassment to us black people in this country.”
There were many people, however, who were in the industry to grow transformation.
“We are looking for real entrepreneurs,” Shabangu said.
“If they are here and think the mining industry will make [them able to] wear expensive shoes, wear expensive suits and move around socialising as socialites, it is not helping this industry.”
Rather, the industry required long term work and investment to achieve far-reaching benefits.
“Transformation is not an event, it’s a process,” she said.
Shabangu said the greatest problem facing mining was that there were too few skilled and educated workers.
Historically, “mining grows itself on the backbone of illiteracy”.
This would also help the sustainability of the sector.
“When you close down [a mine], you must not retrench, you must not [leave] people unemployed. You prepare people to move on to other industries in the sector,” she said.
Shabangu said she hoped to have amendments to the sector’s regulatory framework finalised by the end of the year, and encouraged the mining community and the public to participate in the public hearings.
While Shabangu said she was positive about the future of mining in South Africa, she said that violence accompanying strikes was unacceptable.
“We have a history in this country which we have to deal with... it’s violence.
“It comes in many formats, it’s not only in strikes... it’s a reflection of society.
“There is such a lot of violence in our country, if we continue in this way, definitely this country is going the wrong way,” she said.
Concerns over labour in the sector reached a new level when 44 people were killed during an unprotected strike at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in August last year.
Thirty-four strikers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesters gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.