Minister of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) Susan Shabangu opened the 20th annual Investment in Mining Indaba with her typical finesse, assuring her audience that South Africa remains a prime mining investment destination.

This is standard procedure for the minister, although past experience would indicate that the sector’s realities and not a clear reflection of Shabangu’s words.

What is assuring is her acknowledgement and awareness of the problems the industry is facing and the DMR’s attention to addressing them.

“We are not complacent about the various areas that still require more effort and improvement,” Shabangu said. “However, these indices must provide confidence to the investment community that indeed, not only does South Africa provide an attractive mining destination, but it also provides a globally competitive environment that protects investments.”

She emphasised that “the post-apartheid regulatory framework has unleashed the potent potential for the mining industry of the future, transformed ownership patterns, diversified mining, created employment as well as ended the century old male domination of the industry. Furthermore, the number of mines in operation has increased exponentially, as well as the corresponding revenue generated, while women mineworkers grew from an insignificant number to ten percent currently.”

The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC), chaired President Zuma, has been established and committed over R820 billion in investments, Shabangu said. “Mining infrastructure requirements feature prominently in the PICC in order to further unlock the known mineral development potential, such as the Waterberg coal resources as well manganese and iron ore in the Northern Cape. This bears testimony to government’s commitment to supporting further growth and development of the industry.”

The introduction of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) as mining law in 2004 has taken South Africa into “unchartered territories,” she said. “The MPRDA Bill, which has been a subject of public debate over the last year, is currently being finalised through our parliamentary processes, and we are confident that it will be concluded during the tenure of the current legislators.”

The MPRDA Bill will not create an uncertain regulatory regime, she stresses, saying “we have consulted extensively on the Bill, and we are confident that it provides a predictable, stable and globally competitive mining legislation that promotes investment, inclusive growth, development and transformation.”

Government has intervened boldly and decisively to provide leadership and restore stability in the sector, she adds. “I would like to implore all stakeholders to continue to work together to ensure that peace and stability prevails. I can confidently declare that we have restored the rule of law, peace and stability in this industry. These developments debunk the myth that labour laws in South Africa lack flexibility and are only created to protect workers.”

Shubangu urged investors to evaluate the investment prospects of South Africa appropriately and not be influenced by the immediacy of news headlines. “Notwithstanding some challenges that we have experienced in the recent past, I am confident that the democratic government has created an environment conducive for inclusive growth and enduring partnerships. Africa’s time, indeed, has arrived.  We shall seize our future with both hands, and not fail.”