This year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba Virtual event will help to position mining as a catalytic, transformative, innovative and developmental industry amid a global pandemic.

This is according to South African president Cyril Ramaphosa who was addressing a virtual audience at the start of the two day event.

Ramaphosa praised the South African mining sector for its resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Like all industries, mining and associated economic activities have been disrupted by the pandemic. In the midst of the disruption caused by the pandemic, South African mining has once again shown tremendous resilience and ability to come back.

“For example, South African mining companies have had a strong showing on the JSE in 2020. Also, mining production has had a strong recovery following the phased return of mining activities from the start of Level 4 lockdown restrictions.”

Ramaphosa added that according to Statistics South Africa, the mining and quarrying industries were among the biggest contributors to GDP growth in Q3 2020. “The industry recorded quarter on quarter growth of 288% in Q3 2020. Higher production was mainly due to increased activities in PGMs, iron ore, gold and diamonds,” he explained.

Watch: Mining Indaba Virtual – are you ready?

Relationships strengthen the industry

Ramaphosa stated that the ability of mining to weather the coronavirus storm was also down to the positive working relationship between government and the mining industry – a relationship that all parties should continue to build on.

He further stated that the sector as well as government should adapt to the realities of COVID-19, provide greater policy certainty, attract higher levels of investment and protect livelihoods at the same time. “Sustainable mining is key to accelerated industrialisation, innovation and creating employment,” he added.

To that end, to ensure that there is a continual increase of mining to meet the country’s developmental aspirations, Ramaphosa stated that significant steps have been taken to resolve policy and regulatory issues that are a hindrance to investment.

Ramaphosa further called for the mining sector to strive for sustainability, competitiveness and transformation. He urged companies to make ESG a key part of their strategies and also called for the greater inclusion of women in mining.

Health lessons learnt from the sector

The president also praised the mining sector for protecting the health as well as the lives of employees during the pandemic. “This has been done through the development of a clear set of guidelines as well as building partnerships with all role players,” he added. “However, this task is far from being completed and the mining sector must continue to ensure that workplace observation of public health protocols are observed.”

In conclusion, Ramaphosa said that he was immensely encouraged by the positive sentiment about a COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the sector. This follows an announcement by the Minerals Council South Africa that it aims to vaccinate between 60 000 and 80 000 people per day at a total rollout cost of R300 million. He stated that mining companies are well placed to support the unprecedented vaccine programme given their experience in working to stem the spread of TB and HIV/Aids among employees.

Mining Indaba Virtual event takes place from 2 to 3 February. For more information go to miningindaba.com