In his first public appearance at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop mine near Randfontein on Tuesday, South Africa’s new mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane acknowledged the industry’s challenges, and is looking to address and tackle them head on.
Speaking at a media briefing following an educational underground visit at the 2 km deep mine alongside Harmony CEO Graham Briggs, Zwane confidently stated he is aware that investor confidence is poor in South Africa’s mining sector, and is furthermore determined to repair it.
He also acknowledged the uncertainty regarding the MPRDA as well as the ‘once empowered, always empowered’ BEE legislation requirements. “We aim to engage with the industry and resolve these issues where we can,” the minister stated.
The minister revealed his visit to Doornkop was aimed at ensuring the mine was safe and its employees happy. He spent time at the stopes engaging with the mineworkers and afterwards revealed he had received positive response from those he spoke to.
In February 2014 Harmony’s mine lost eight workers to a fire underground.
Zwane’s passion for transformation and empowerment was also evident, going so far as to indicate that the current weak commodity cycle could be used to South Africa’s advantage.
Numerous coal, platinum and chrome asset owners are in discussions with the ministry to return their rights as they cannot viably be mined or developed. These assets could be used to widen public participation in the country.