The Chamber of Mines of South Africa has welcomed President Jacob Zuma's commitment to ensuring that the mining sector remains a priority area of the economy.

The Chamber of Mines comment follows the commitments made by President Zuma during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 9 February 2017.

“The Chamber of Mines appreciates the President’s resolve to finalise the passage and promulgation of the amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) as soon as possible.

And similar to the President, we hope that the review of the Mining Charter can be resolved on a mutually satisfactory basis. In order to create a better platform for greater investment in mining, we need a predictable, competitive and stable mining policy and regulatory framework applied in a ‘smart tape’ manner, Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter commented.

The Chamber of Mines further noted and appreciated the imperative expressed by President Zuma for the more rapid transformation of the South African economy, and indicated that government has a primary role to play in that. The delivery of basic services, education and training at all levels, adequate healthcare, and the development of an environment conducive to economic development and growth are all critical to South Africa’s future success.

“The President is correct to state that social stability depends on achieving that. The challenge is to pursue that goal in a manner that promotes transformation and competitiveness as mutually reinforcing concepts,” the Chamber noted.

“The mining industry is committed to doing its utmost to support the laudable transformation goals. Indeed, we believe the industry has done more than most in that regard. We noted with particular interest President Zuma’s lament regarding economic concentration. We recall that in the 1980s the bulk of our industry was controlled by six major companies. Today, interestingly, the Chamber of Mines’ direct and indirect members total more than 100, are spread across all commodities and sectors, and include many emerging miners.”

The Chamber also noted the Presidents wish for more black-owned and controlled mining companies, which the Chamber believes significant progress has been made.

“It is a challenge, however, to assume that the parts of the industry that are not black-owned are South African white-owned. The historical ‘rand lord’ structures no longer exist. More than 50% of the industry is owned by millions of South Africans through pension funds and investments, across all racial groups, including through the Public Investment Corporation and the Industrial Development Corporation. The bulk of the remainder is owned by foreign pension and other asset management funds on whose investment dollars and rands we are very dependent.”

“This year will be a critical year for South Africa and for the mining industry. We trust that the ‘green shoots of recovery’ within the mining industry – also mentioned by President Zuma – will be permitted to develop with appropriate forms of support of government,” said Baxter.