Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 July 2009 – South African mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu says the government will not nationalise the country’s mines, despite calls for such action from the ruling party’s allies.
The youth wing of the African National Congress and South Africa’s powerful trade union federation COSATU have asked the government to take control of mines in the country, which is the world’s largest source of platinum and a major producer of gold.
“We are definitely not going to nationalise mines,” Shabangu told Reuters in an interview.
“The ongoing debate will not change the government’s policy at all. It must be a concern for investors, but I want to assure them that as government we are not going to go on that route. The South Africa they knew yesterday is the same today, and nothing will change. It is a non-issue,” she emphasised.
Reuters reports that South Africa’s new President Jacob Zuma has faced pressure to introduce economic policy changes in the midst of a recession and spreading poverty. Those behind the calls to nationalise the country’s mines say they want to protect jobs, many of which have already been lost during the global economic downturn.
“People can talk and explore the issue at an intellectual level according to their persuasions,” Shabangu said.
The ANC said earlier this week that it would allow debate on nationalisation, but many analysts have said it would harm the biggest economy in Africa if such a policy was adopted.
The minister went on to say that South Africa still held key concerns over Xstrata Plc’s merger proposal to Anglo American Plc, including the possible impact on jobs and anti-trust issues.
Shabangu said she had met Xstrata chief executive Mick Davis, and had been briefed about the merger proposal, but she still had concerns over this issue.
She said Davis was still keen to push through the nil-premium merger, which Anglo has rebuffed. Shabangu declined to say if Xstrata had indicated whether it could offer a premium. “It is quite clear from their side they are prepared to move forward with the merger,” she said.