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NUM calls for state-owned mining company

Frans Baleni,
General Secretary,
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 08 July 2009 – South Africa’s biggest labour union “’ the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) “’ has expressed the belief that the government should buy assets from willing sellers to create a state-owned mining company.

“Such a company would provide the country with revenue and create jobs,” NUM general secretary Frans Baleni said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News. The government should follow the route it took in 2007 when diamond producer De Beers agreed to merge its Namaqualand mines with state gem company Alexkor,” he proposed.

“What we have seen is a willing buyer and seller,” Baleni said. “There is nothing wrong with that.”

The Youth League of the ruling African National Congress and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) “’ of which the NUM is an affiliate “’ have called for mines to be nationalised to preserve jobs, after companies including Lonmin Plc and Anglo Platinum Limited had dismissed about 25 000 workers because of falling metal prices. The ANC has said that it is open to discussing the demands of its youth wing and COSATU.

The calls for nationalisation aren’t new and are enshrined in the ANC’s Freedom Charter, a 1955 policy document,” Baleni said.

“As defenders of the revolution we will have a permanent problem with any member or leader of the ANC who opposes the Freedom Charter in an attempt to please the minority owners of mines and mineral resources,” the league said in an e-mailed statement.

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum, chrome, manganese and vanadium. It is also the third-largest supplier of gold and the biggest source of coal for European power plants.