South African minister
of mineral resources
Susan Shabangu
Johannesburg, South Africa — 06 June 2012 – South African minister of mineral resources Susan Shabangu firmly believes that the country’s mining industry will start to regain its international competitiveness over the next two years as existing constraints are addressed.

Shabangu was due to speak at the opening of the Mining Lekgotla industry conference here, but was still making her way back from Washington where she attended a meeting of the Kimberley Process Diamond Scheme. Miningmx reports that her speech was delivered by the department’s deputy director-general for mineral regulation Joel Raphela.

Shabangu said the state had recognised that a number of “binding” obstacles, including the shortage of infrastructure such as rail, port capacity, water and energy, were hindering the growth and competitiveness of the industry. These constraints had to some extent contributed to the decline in South Africa’s share of global exploration expenditure, from 5% in 2004 to 1% in 2011.

“The announcement of a multi-year infrastructural programme earlier in 2012 was a key breakthrough,” Shabangu said. “I am convinced that, as the binding constraints on the operational side of the industry ease over the next year or two, South African mining is destined to regain its competitiveness.”

She pointed out that the country had already seen improvements in respect of the 2011 Fraser Institute mineral competitive index, which had ranked South Africa 54 out of 93 countries, an improvement of 13 places compared with 2010.

Shabangu praised Migdett – an industry, labour and government cooperation process – for removing “the perceived tension between growth and transformation”. “This is a major step in repositioning our mining industry towards competitiveness,” she said.

In reference to the revision of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), Shabangu said the fundamentals which had been built since the implementation of the legislation had been correct. “The building blocks are there,” she said.

Shabangu continued: “So it is important that this conference should look at enhancing the implementation of all provisions of the legislation, policy documents and provisions of the mining sector strategy. I trust that as a way forward we will critically look at these documents and work out clear strategies to address current and emerging challenges and the consequent negative effect they may have on our sector.”

Less rosy in his view of the industry was the National Union of Mineworkers President Senzeni Zokwana, who said the “transformation agenda” was one of the only hopes for mine workers.

“We have noted the opportunistic misnomer of facilitating this kind of transformation as a phenomenon in which black women became largely employed underground while white women were allocated powerful positions above the surface,” he said.

“This has clearly demonstrated that some of our partners in the industry unfortunately have a paper commitment and little respect for real transformation and empowerment of those historically disadvantaged.”

Source: Miningmx. For more information, click here.