President Ramaphosa’s call for unity between industry and government at Investing in African Mining Indaba

40029741303 30fd4370b7 o"We no longer want to meet you in court," said President Cyril Ramaphosa, who addressed a full auditorium during the 25th annual Investing in African Mining Indaba

 

"The days of conflict between industry and government should be something that belongs to the past. We want to meet you in your boardrooms and Minister Mantashe’s offices. This is an era where there needs to be more collaboration and more working together."

His speech was met with rapturous applause as he continued to dismiss claims the mining industry's future in South Africa looked bleak, but he instead, insisted that it was "still in its sun rising days".

He also said it was fitting that Investing in Mining Indaba should coincide with the 25th anniversary of the achievement of democracy in South Africa because of the significant role that the mining industry has played in the construction of present day South Africa.

He said how the government had made huge strides in bringing investment into the country following their inaugural South African investment conference last year. Three mining companies that attended that conference made investment commitments that amounted to US$20bn in total - indicating the government was ahead of its target of raising US$100bn in foreign investment over the next five years. 

"The fact these three major investment announcements came from the mining sector gives credence to the view that mining in South Africa is indeed what we can regard as a sunrise industry," he said.

"We believe that these companies that have made these commitments will make a valuable contribution to accelerate economic growth and job creation. We recognise that we will not be able to meaningfully reduce unemployment and poverty in our country without increased investment, particularly in critical areas of our economy, in areas that matter most, especially the productive sectors, of which mining is an important part. 

"South Africa’s mining industry has a history that spans 150 years. The country’s minerals wealth has attracted large investment over the past decades resulting in the development of  integrated industrial value chains but generate significant value for the economy of our country. South Africa holds the world largest platinum group metals and manganese and some of the largest reserves of gold, steel, diamonds, chromite, ore and vanadium. As a government we regard mining as a major player in the future growth of the development of our economy, with huge potential for exploration, production and beneficiation."

Meanwhile, he addressed the challenges facing Eskom, saying it was "too important to allow it to fail."

"We have been given detailed attention to the crisis and challenges that our electricity company Eskom is facing. Its contribution to the health of our economy is far too great for it to be allowed to fail. Eskom is just too important and in a number of ways, it is too big to be made to fail and we will not allow Eskom to fail, restoring the energy security for the country is an absolute imperative."

The president said the government would issue a package of measures to stabilise and improve Eskom’s financial, operational and structural position, and ensure energy security supply for the economy, the country and the mining industry. 

Land reform

He addressed the issue of land reform and the fear that investors have about their assets being taken away from them. "We must applaude those mining companies that have come forward and said that we have surplus land that we don’t use or never be able to use. They have indicated to us that they are willing to almost donate that land for housing, local government and for farming for various communities."

He also urged the industry to take advantage of the technological advances underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution, saying that, "I’m encouraged by some of our mining houses that is already making use of technology in quite a creative way, not for purposes in replacing people with machines but are seeking to improve efficiency, guaranteed safety of workers, produce a skilled workforce, and most importantly, preserve jobs and become profitable."

 

President’s decree to create successful and modern mining industry:

1. Companies should foster inclusive growth in areas where they operate. Companies which care about the upliftment of workers, of communities are the most successful companies. 

2. Companies should partner with local governments to help local governments. Mining companies should engage with key role players and help to come up with expertise and knowledge, in areas such as infrastructure; water and roads in areas where they operate. 

3. The mining sector must invest in the living conditions of its employees as more of a regulatory obligation through building decent houses for workers. 

4. Companies must invest in education and training. We applaud those companies who are far sighted enough to set up early childhood centres as well as those to develop hardcore skills, such as mining engineering,  metallurgy and artisan training. 

5. There should be partnerships between companies and training colleges, contributing to the development of curricula and providing work experience for students.  

6. Companies should embrace beneficiation.

7. More attention needs to be paid to the health and safety of company employees. 

8. Mining firms must provide internships and job opportunities to young people, but also assisting SMEs to be apart of their value chains. 

9. The development of young women should be made a priority through active hire policies, training promotion and mentorship.

10. Companies must have the courage to include their workers in the firm’s shareholdings and give recognition to unions and bring them onto their boards as well.

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