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The South African government has said that it remains committed to working with the mining industry to achieve returns that serve the best interests of all South Africans

Image source: Mining Lekgotla 2012.Image source: Mining Lekgotla 2012.

Joel Raphela, the acting deputy director general in the Department of Mineral Resources, made the statement while delivering a speech on behalf of minister Susan Shabangu.

Raphela said the department recognised the number of binding constraints, including a lack of infrastructure and a shortage of skills, that were hindering the growth and competitiveness of the industry.

Raphela said president Jacob Zuma’s multi-year infrastructure programme that was announced in February 2012 would be vital in addressing some of the challenges faced by the industry.

"Brick by brick we are getting to the bottom of this issue and we are making progress and clearly we can do more to get the ticking time bomb of unemployed and unemployable youth off our townships and rural streets," Raphela told the opening of the Mining Lekgotla that took place recently in Midrand, South Africa.

The summit brought together over 1,000 representatives of government, labour and the mining industry to form a consensus on a way forward for the country's mining industry.

"The beneficiation policy approved by Cabinet last year will be a milestone in our recovery, contributing to jobs, value-addition and the further industrialisation of our country," Raphela added.

Raphela said that the government is working hard to rectify the relationship amongst mines and communities in areas where mining operations take place. The objective, he said, should be a win-win situation for all sides.

It was hoped that the meeting would indicate the way forward on how to improve the global competitiveness of the South African mining industry and its contribution to the country's economy.

Chief executive officer of the Chamber of Mines, Bheki Sibiya, said that all the representatives at the meeting identified with issues such as risks, competiveness and growth opportunities.

Other issues discussed at the meeting include the role of the youth in the industry, the options for nationalisation, acid mine drainage, beneficiation opportunities, leveraging on the Brics partnerships, globalisation, carbon taxes and related environmental issues as well as health and safety challenges.