Address by the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Samson Gwede Mantashe, on the occasion of the signing of the Mining Leadership Compact, 4th February 2019, Cape Town
The Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Cde Godfrey Oliphant
Director-General of the Department
Leadership of organised labour – the NUM, AMCU, UASA and Solidarity
Leadership of organised business – the Minerals Council SA and SAMDA
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me start by welcoming you all to this meeting of the Mining Leadership Forum. We gather this morning, on the day that we welcome the world onto our shores for the 2019 Investing in African Mining Indaba. In just less than two hours from now, people of the world will gather at the Cape Town ICC to listen to what we as this collective have to offer. All these guests from different corners of the world, representing both memory and hope, remind us by their presence that ours is a task in a relay of continuous rebirth so that the dream of a better South African mining industry becomes a reality.
It is fitting therefore, that we take stock of where we are as an industry as we are collectively responsible for making this dream a reality, shaping the future and building the South African mining industry brand. We must be able to demonstrate that we are determined to build a competitively growing mining industry defined by ethics, decency and integrity. While there might be issues we differ on, on these fundamental matters, we are at one.
Mining in South Africa offers excellent economic opportunities, but it must be done in a socially responsible way with decent pay, labour rights and a safe workplace, all protected by strong trade unions. The sector must ensure that mining takes place with a strong focus on the environment and on the interests of all stakeholders, including those who live in mining areas.
When we met in March last year we agreed that, while finalising the Mining Charter was an urgent priority, equally imperative was the development of a long-term strategy for the industry, which recognises that growth, transformation and competitiveness are mutually reinforcing. The leadership compact we are signing this morning is a culmination of that agreement. This is our common vision document on which we will rely as we embark on our growth and competitiveness journey.
While, the cynical view may be to think that this is just another document, and some may regard today’s signing as a mere formality. It is our intention that this compact becomes a living document, our growth and competitiveness compass which will guide our decisions and actions on this journey and drive us towards the attainment of our collective vision for 2030, that of a “prosperous, competitive and transformed mining sector”.
The Compact contains eleven areas of focus which we as Social Partners believe provide the basis for a roadmap to attain vision 2030. There will be an implementation plan developed to keep track of progress made and milestones reached. I will not go into detail on each of the areas as you are all familiar with the document, except to highlight a few issues from Government’s perspective.
Regulatory and policy matters
Upon assuming my role as Minister of Mineral Resources, my immediate priorities were creating regulatory and policy certainty and improve competitiveness to stimulate growth. To this end, the Charter has been gazetted for implementation, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Bill have been withdrawn and the process to separate the Minerals and Petroleum sections is underway.
To improve our sector’s competitiveness, Government is working on a review of several administered prices, including port, rail and electricity tariffs. We are keenly aware that for the sector, these have been particularly prohibitive, so you can be assured that this matter is receiving urgent attention.
We recognise the need for a licensing system that is efficient and transparent, and we are working on enhancing SAMRAD, which will maintain a clear record and trail of all applications and improve turnaround times.
The frequency and scale of accidents confronting the industry remains a sore point because mining is not just about the minerals but most importantly it is about the people. Hence, we moved forward the hosting of the Occupational Health and Safety Summit not only to address factors that led to the increase in accidents but also health related factors. We should remain vigilant in ensuring we do not see a repeat of last year’s disasters so every worker can return from work unharmed every day.
Business, community and labour relations
Compared to a year ago, there has been an improvement in the level of engagements between the Social Partners, though there is still room for improvement. Improving relations between Social Partners will be key in achieving our vision 2030.
We have identified the issue of resettlement of communities as a challenge in several provinces. To this end, the development of resettlement guidelines is underway, and we will be consulting with you on these.
Supporting new entrants into the industry
The next era of mining is likely to be characterised by more junior or mid-tier mining companies, as opposed to the conglomerates which dominated in the past. It is therefore important that while we sustain and grow current investments, we also develop mechanisms, financial and otherwise, to support the entry of new, smaller players into the industry, throughout the mining value chain with a particular focus on women, youth and people with disabilities. We must also consider those mines that have been placed under care and maintenance, and which could be more optimally operated by smaller and more efficient operators.
As I conclude, we must be cognisant of the rapid change in technology. The 4th Industrial Revolution is already impacting the industry, with deployment of technologies such as mechanisation and automation. It is therefore necessary that we are responsive to ensure that the transition by our industry is both inclusive and sustainable. Work being done in the Mandela Mining Precinct offers us a glimpse of the possible opportunities this revolution offers, especially to localise manufacturing of these technologies. We therefore need to ensure that we are ready to capitalise on the opportunities it offers. As we work towards developing a long-term strategy for the sector, let us keep in mind the kind of mining industry we want to create – one that is globally competitive, sustainable, and meaningfully transformed. By signing and implementing this compact, we demystify the popular belief that mining in South Africa is a sunset industry and commit all efforts to ensuring that we have a sector that will have a positive impact on the economy and the country at large for many more years to come.
I thank you.