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In his address at Mining Indaba in South Africa, President Ramaphosa challenged the mining industry represented by the Minerals Council to take steps to implement what he called “10 value-adding principles”.

Supplied by the Minerals Council South Africa

In his response, president of the Minerals Council South Africa Mxolisi Mgojo, said, “I believe that our industry would be at fault if it did not respond to the President’s challenge.

"We must not only respond to President Ramaphosa, but also continue to engage with him, with government and with other stakeholders on how we can best contribute to this great country of ours by “making mining matter.”

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

Challenge 7: Safety and health

The Minerals Council and its members are fully committed to zero harm, and significant progress has been made over the past 25 years, with an 88% reduction in fatalities in the sector and significant improvements in the reduction of exposures of workers to occupational hazards.

However, it is acknowledged that more work needs to be done.

Reference was made to the CEO Heartfelt Conversations. “Run under the auspices of our CEO-led Zero Harm Forum, we wanted to try to understand and brainstorm how we could achieve the next major step towards zero harm.

The result: the Khumbul’ekhaya initiative that we will be launching this year.

“We implemented the Minerals Council safety and health day initiative last August, material work is being done with partners in the MHSC, the Minerals Council’s CEO ZeroHarm forum has been hard at work and the Minerals Council Learning Hub has been helping identify and roll out leading practice to improve safety and health in the industry.”

Challenge 8: To provide internships and job experience opportunities for young people – as well as business opportunities for SMMEs

Said Mxolisi, “We are implementing various measures to drive this agenda. This includes our focus on skills development and education, and our expansion of opportunities to SMMEs on the procurement side.”

He referred to the “remarkable work doneby members in empowering small and other emerging business as suppliers to the industry over the past 15 years.”

Regarding internships and job opportunities for young people, Mxolisi explained how the industry works closely with the Mining Qualifications Authority with the latter offering qualifying employers grants as part of its internship programme.

Challenge 9: Create more opportunities for young women

Mxolisi spoke of progress made. “There were close to zero women in the industry beyond mostly clerical and medical positions at the dawn of democracy.

Today, some 13% of the workforce, or over 50,000 people, are female.”

Elaborating, he said, “The challenge is not only in numbers. It is also in ensuring that our operations are places where women can work comfortably and feel safe.

“One of our women board members has agreed to champion getting gender firmly onto the agenda and we hope to pilot a number of new initiatives in the year ahead.”

Challenge 10: To make workers shareholders and board members

Said Mxolisi, “We are proud that mining companies have, since 2006, taken the lead in developing employee share ownership plans in our companies. No other sector compares.

“Unfortunately, the volatility of our listed companies’ share prices has not always produced the lucrative outcomes for employees that we would have liked.”

Regarding board membership, Mxolisi said, “Achievement of this challenge would be a sign of a well-developed mature relationship between companies and employee representatives.

“That may perhaps make it something to aspire towards.”

Mxolisi summed up by saying that the industry was taking President Ramaphosa’s challenges very seriously, and concluded:

“In the spirit of openness and frankness, we would also like to challenge the President to work with the industry and other partners to improve the sector’s competitiveness.

“If we can do this together, we really can achieve the real economic and transformational potential of mining.

“We look forward to further engagement with him, his colleagues in government and other stakeholders.”