Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was part of a discussion panel at a New Age Business Breakfast held in Sandton on 5 February. The event's theme was "Revival of the mining sector, its business viability and ensuring job security".
The panel included David Msiza, the acting director-general in the Department of Mineral Resources, and investment specialist Clive Ramathibela-Smith. Also in attendance were industry players, government officials and other stakeholders, including Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe.
Zwane kicked off the discussion with an admission that 2016 was going to be a challenging year for the mining sector: "This year is not only a time to talk but also for action to push the industry forward."
Msiza added that there were several short- and long-term plans to enable this progress, most vitally addressing mining job losses. "We have formulated a
declaration on saving jobs in mining that will have to be implemented this year. Transformation as well as health and safety are also very important to the sector."
Unpacking these important issues during his first five months as minister, Zwane said he had met with several chief executives of primary right holder companies. The meetings had been held to address the lack of progress in the ideals of the Mining Charter, in essence the 26% black ownership goal.
According to the minister, all parties wanted to solve this issue amicably, without the need for legal steps, as had been reported in the media, because all parties fully believed in the principles of the charter. He insisted that this was not a compromise on the government's stance on black empowerment, but something that needed to fit all the stakeholders concerned.
"I have also sat
down with overseas stakeholders in order to stop predicted job losses. I am happy to say that these discussions managed to save 3 000 jobs in the sector this year."
This was a good step on which to start off the Mining Indaba, Zwane said, with several African governments and private sector players involved in mapping out a constructive way forward for the industry, or as he called it: "reviving the industry to its full potential and ensuring obstacles are removed to address concerns of all stakeholders involved".
All his discussions were fruitful and the parties concerned welcomed his open-door policy regarding labour disputes, including resolving issues with Section 54 mine stoppage notices that had affected productivity during 2015.
The panel moderator, SABC's Peter Ndoro, asked the acting director-general about one of the prominent
issues in the sector, particularly when it came to ongoing labour negotiations: the sometimes opaque policy. When do stakeholders get full clarity on mining policies in South Africa, he asked?
Msiza reiterated the belief that collaboration was key: "Each stakeholder might have different views on things like policy legislation and labour disputes, but in the end, we all have the same objective, which is the sustainability of the mining sector and that the right people benefit from the industry."
Ongoing negotiations and amendments around the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and open discussions at events such as the Mining Indaba went a long way to addressing challenges and gaining clarity on what mining in South Africa was and what it should be for all its stakeholders.
#Zwane#TNABizBrief the period we are in needs cool heads and proper leadership. We must be responsible in dealing with issues.
Mining in South Africa is a driving force behind the country's history and its development as the most advanced and richest economy on the continent. As the annual Mining Indaba begins on 8 February 2016, the Ministry of Mineral Resources reassures stakeholders that, despite challenges, the sector has a bright future. (Image: Media Club South Africa)