Cape Town – Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi says his department will review the country’s mining strategy to ensure that all minerals that come out of the country benefit both the economy and the people of South Africa.
The minister said the new administration has a mandate to accelerate socio-economic transformation to ensure that the triple ills of the economy – unemployment, poverty and inequality – are tackled and addressed.
He said this when briefing the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources in Parliament on Tuesday.
Minister Ramatlhodi said in order to improve the lives of citizens, government had aligned all its plans to the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP is the state’s policy framework aimed at making the lives of all South Africans better by 2030.
He said the stability of the country’s mining industry remained important to driving the vision of a robust socio-economic transformation.
“To this end, we will play an important role in the implementation of a framework agreement for a sustainable mining industry, led by the Presidency.
“In terms of the current administration, one of the department’s priorities includes the review of the country’s mining strategy, which will be informed by a consultative engagement with all stakeholders.
“This review, together with the assessment of the mining charter… will not only enable us to reflect on how far the industry has come [in terms of transformation goals], but what we can and must do to accelerate the broader transformation of the mining industry,” he said.
The minister’s remarks come against the backdrop of the recent five-month long strike in the platinum belt. Mining companies Lonmin, Anglo Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum (Implats) reached a wage agreement with mining union Association of Mining and Construction Union (Amcu) after a protracted strike, which left a bruise on the economy.
Minister Ramatlhodi said while the health of the economy called for safeguarding the industry, it was important to also ensure that mineworkers were well looked after in terms of their health and safety while working underground and under harsh conditions.
Mine health summit
In this regard, the Mineral Resources Department would host a mine health and safety summit soon.
The minister also said government would push for mining companies to meet the target of the Mining Charter, which was legislated to ensure the industry is transformed and that mineworkers are skilled as one of several requirements.
“The empowerment of the youth and women will also receive priority and attention,” he said.
During his State of the Nation Address last month, President Jacob Zuma said priority would be given to creating an enabling environment in order to unlock investment.
Minister Ramatlhodi reiterated this sentiment, saying the exploration of oil and shale gas would also be a focus area for government. While government would ensure South Africans benefit from this, such work would be done in a manner that ensures the well-being of citizens and the environment.
He said government was aware of concerns raised by the mining and energy industries on amendments that were made to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
The minister said an inter-ministerial committee – comprising the Mineral Resources, Finance, Energy, Economic Development and Trade and Industry Ministries – had been established to look into those concerns.
Some of the concerns, Minister Ramatlhodi said, related to beneficiation of mined resources and oil and gas exploration.