It has been almost a year since I was appointed South Africa’s minister of mineral resources.
My top priority immediately after being sworn in was to begin restoring relative stability to the industry, which had faced protracted periods of labour unrest, and to address perceptions regarding policy and regulatory uncertainty.
So I have spent a considerable amount of time working with stakeholders and officials in the department, grappling with critical issues plaguing the industry and seeking sustainable solutions in this regard.
The re-establishment of the mining growth development and employment task team – the tripartite structure between government, labour and business – has been instrumental.
It has helped ensure we proactively anticipate any potential challenges and jointly pursue solutions in the long-term interests of the industry, the people and the economy of this country.
South Africa faces the triple challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment, and these can only be tackled when we all put our shoulders to the wheel.
We can only successfully implement the National Development Plan, which recognises the critical role played by mining in the South African economy, if we have all the critical role players on board.
This year marked my maiden Investing in African Mining Indaba and it has been beneficial for me to get a holistic picture of the industry globally, in South Africa and on the continent.
The indaba happens at a time when the industry faces many challenges, but also opportunities we can harness to take our country and Africa forward.
Through my interactions with the global investment community, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos and during this Mining Indaba, I am satisfied the investment community has confidence in what we are aiming to deliver – an environment conducive to doing business.
My target is to place the South African mining industry back on the global map and get the nascent oil and gas industry off the ground.
The referral of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill back to Parliament provides a perfect opportunity to achieve this. In line with the principle of the separation of powers, we will be guided by Parliament on the processing of the bill.
Though it is my wish to expedite the finalisation of this matter, we should be careful not to compromise parliamentary processes and inadvertently produce a flawed piece of legislation.
We stand ready to work with Parliament and offer any technical assistance required.
I believe this year’s Mining Indaba has been a success.
It is my wish, however, to see the annual event becoming more inclusive. Better representation and the active participation of labour and mining communities, among others, will be critical to the future success of the conference.
I am strongly of the view that we must find ways to actively involve alternative voices and vulnerable groups so we can ensure the indaba’s outcomes are truly representative of industry stakeholders.
I wish to reaffirm our commitment that our doors remain open to engage with stakeholders in the industry in our mutual interest – and most importantly for the benefit of South Africans, to whom the minerals beneath the soil belong, and on whose behalf the state acts as custodian.