HomeBusiness and policyUnlocking, unblocking of SA mining projects requires deep collaboration

Unlocking, unblocking of SA mining projects requires deep collaboration

In order for the mining industry to play the catalytical role required of it to stimulate South Africa’s economic growth and development, there is a deep-seated need for even greater collaboration between mining sector stakeholders.

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While the need for greater collaboration was the consensus of the panel members, agreement on what changes are needed and what can realistically be achieved in order to make quantum leap required to reboot the mining sector was up for debate.

Speaking on the panel discussion, which took place on day 2 of Mining Indaba Virtual, Minerals Council South Africa CEO Roger Baxter said that the Council hosted a deep dive with its members in December 2020 aimed at highlighting the critical issues holding back specific mining projects in South Africa. “The Council received 100 responses from its member companies all of whom indicated that significant amounts of capital (more than R20 billion, in fact) was currently tied up in projects due to regulatory hurdles curtailing their development,” said Baxter.

Highlighting the critical need for government and private collaboration among stakeholders as key to unlocking and unblocking the development of both mining and energy projects in South Africa, Baxter also echoed the sentiments of his fellow panellistWerner Duvenhage MD of Richards Bay Minerals, who noted collaboration as key to the development of its Zulti South project towards development, which could deliver R100 billion worth of value to the South African economy over its 25 year life.

Duvenhage said that it is up to all of the affected stakeholders to support the finalisation of the projects up to the point where they are delivering the value needed to reinvigorate the mining sector and reconstruct the economy.

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While the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy director-general Advocate Thabo Mokoena highlighted several different projects on which the industry has collaborated on in the past, including the Mining Charter, the Mining Leadership Compact and the mining industry’s response to COVID-19 and its new exploration strategy as examples, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman noted that the mining sector still does not have a common vision for the industry as divergent views on the matter still exist among stakeholders.

“While Advocate Mokoena provided many good examples of improved stakeholder collaboration, brought about by a minister whose heart is in the right place, resulting in excellent engagement and substantial collaboration, there are many sticking points that still remain,” says Froneman.

First and foremost Froneman believes that there are still many aspects that are not investor friendly and while some of the interventions being considered are critical and required, such as speeding up mining rights applications, there is still much to do to create the quantum shift needed to reboot and grow the economy of South Africa to reduce poverty and inequality.

“We need to find the balance between the rights of investors, government, the community and the mining industry – an aspect that still requires much work,” says Froneman.

Chantelle Kotze
Chantelle Kotze is a Johannesburg-based media professional. She is a contributor at Mining Review Africa (Clarion Events - Africa) and has created content for the media brand over the past 6 years.