The Democratic Alliance (DA) does not believe Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s budget vote for the Department of Mineral Resources, on Wednesday, took into account of the many areas of concern within the country’s mining industry.
Speaking to Mining Weekly Online, DA Shadow Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Kevin Mileham indicated that a major concern was that the sector was losing jobs, while it was “pandering to unions”.
Mileham, therefore, called for a reining in of militant actions, intimidation, threats and illegal activities.
He highlighted the need for a mutually beneficial compromise between employer and employee bodies that enabled reasonable wages and working conditions, while simultaneously providing profitability for shareholders to sustain investment in the sector.
Another area of concern was the decline in productivity in the mining sector, and the causes of this, with Mileham noting the considerable negative impact of Mining Charter III.
Given this, Mileham posited that the charter should be scrapped entirely and that a royalties-based approach should be pursued instead.
“Government must focus on delivering what is their responsibility; we cannot expect mining companies to build hospitals and schools and engage in activities that are not related to their core business,” he emphasised.
Therefore, the alternative approach called for would make use of a royalties fund that was ring-fenced and independently audited and administrated to benefit mining communities.
Meanwhile, also of concern was the South African Mineral Resources Administration System (Samrad), which Mileham described as “dysfunctional”.
Mileham acknowledged that the department had now recognised that the Samrad database was not working and required attention.
However, he noted that, despite this, it was “problematic” that the department was pursuing a database solution that was customised and would include human resources and financial management.
Mileham indicated that there were other South African mining rights administration solutions available that were being used by many countries around the world, which the department could serve to benefit from, rather than prioritising a customised solution to replace Samrad.
Mileham noted that the party would interact with a number of stakeholders in the upcoming months, such as mining houses and environmental groups, to solicit input into what needed to be done in the sector, and how to mitigate the concerns outlined.
“The bottom line is, we have to get South African mining working again. We need to take advantage of the massive reserves of mineral resources we are sitting on, in a responsible manner.”
Moreover, Mileham emphasised the need to maximise the approach to mining, streamline entrance into the market for new participants, make the sector more attractive to foreign investment, and ensure that companies supplying mining houses were not harmed or hindered.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online