Chairperson of the Joburg Indaba Bernard Swanepoel opened this year’s conference focused on investing in mining and resources in Africa with an open letter to the new Minister of Mineral Resources.

Dear Minister Zwane

“Your recently adopted child is not living up to its natural ability. We urge you to pay attention to two specific areas, namely Leadership and People Management Skills and Regulatory Certainty and the consistent application thereof. Failure to impact positively in the short term on these areas may result in the candidate not participating in the next commodity boom cycle, nor will it fulfill its potential to be a significant contributor to society and the economy of South Africa.

Regards

The Joburg Indaba Team

This was followed by a keynote address by former minister of finance Trevor Manual. In his address he said that the NDP does not contain a chapter on mining, but rather looks at the whole of South Africa some 20-30 years back, and the kind of country we want to be in 2030, evaluating promises made against the Constitution, and tries to remedy the unfulfilled parts.”

The conditions have changed significantly from the time the NDP was drafted, especially in the mining sector. He said that while the NDP isn’t perfect, it at least provides a way forward. “It is now time to engage with government and ensure its success,” he noted.

Former CEO of South African gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti Bobby Godsell, termed as an “elder” of the mining industry, spoke as a citizen and expressed some concern on the change of leadership, specifically the change of minerals resource minister, midst three exercises currently underway to fix the industry.

Godsell said that it is up to the leaders of labour, management and government to bring about positive change in the mining industry urging industry to stand up. He also hopes that the new minister will do this.

Meanwhile, executive chairman of Teba Limited and union pioneer Dr James Motlatsi another “elder” in the mining secor said public comments are often necessary but do not tell the whole story.  South Africans insult each other in public, but it’s the private conversations that we should be able to have”, he said. He also posed the questions “Why did you change the mining minster now Mr President? And how do we solve the migrant labour issue?

“Before you change the Minister, approach the captains of industry, labour, and Chamber of Mines, because you are disrupting the programs that are already in the pipeline.  This industry needs to be informed about any changes in cabinet,” mentioned Motlatsi.

Day two of the Joburg Indaba focused on providing perspectives on the modernising of the industry from Impala Platinum CEO Terence Goodlace and AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa.

Mathunjwa said that companies must transform and realise their workers are human beings. “Investment into the sector is not [but should be] made to correct the ills of the past and include skills development – if we don’t change this South Africa will burn."

Goodlace agreed with the AMCU president, acknowledging the importance of mining employees. “We need a shared vision and a realism to do with is right for the people and the country.

The keynote address of the day was delivered by Anglo American non-executive director and industry analyst Jim Rutherford and provided advice and recommendations for the  "much changed” mining industry.

He revealed that mining now only represents less than 1% of the global equity market, while the South African mining industry only represents 4% of the total global mining industry, down from 40% 20-25 years ago.

To redress this, he suggested that the mining industry prioritise balance sheet repair, change its sense of realism, response to low prices from a supply side and arrest productivity decline.

In order to modernise its mining industry, South Africa’s modernisation drive needs change its operating practices, labour, community and government relations.

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