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Government mining audit a good start

AngloGold Ashanti
CEO Mark Cutifani
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 30 November 2010 – Cleaning up South Africa’s scandal-tainted mining sector is no easy task, but a six-month government audit of existing mineral licences is a welcome start, according to the head of the world’s third-largest gold mining company.

“There’s been a lot of good work,” AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani told Reuters in an interview. And there is a lot of work that needs to be done,” he added.

Miningmx points out that mines minister Susan Shabangu acknowledged a crisis in the industry in August, after damaging mineral rights disputes between global mining companies and little-known black investment firms.

After imposing a six-month moratorium on new mining rights applications from September, a government audit has unearthed "disturbing" problems, ranging from bribery and illegal drilling to overlapping claims and rights sold without permission.

Despite criticism of the government for letting the problems take root, Cutifani, said South Africa still ranked among the top five countries for mining firms to work, mainly because of a mining tradition dating back to the 1880s.

“It’s still one of the best jurisdictions to operate in,” he said, citing Canada, Brazil and Colombia as rivals. Australia had slipped behind the world’s biggest platinum producer because of a planned minerals windfall tax,” he added.

“Not all that many countries listen to the mining industry, but in South Africa, we get listened to,” said Cutifani. “We have access to the people we need to have access to, and they have been very supportive.”