CONVERSATIONS WITH THE LEADERS
Writer: Chris Bathembu
ensuring transformation and sustainability in mining
he South African economy has been built on the
see improvements. We are doing well with gold and we are
back of mining. For more than 150 years, South
optimistic that we are starting to climb the ladder.”
Africa’s mining sector has been resilient and a leader
in employment for many people, including migrant workers
The mandate of the department
from neighbouring countries.
South Africa is known for its abundance of mineral
More recently, gross fixed capital formation in the mining
resources. It is estimated to have the world’s fifth largest
industry increased from R18 billion in 2004 to R87 billion
mining sector in terms of gross domestic product value
in 2014. Foreign direct investment in the industry grew
and its mining companies are key players in the global
considerably, from R112 billion in 2004 to R377 billion in
2014, while employment increased from 448 909 in 2004 to 495 592 in 2014.
and an efficient regulatory framework, these precious
These are the figures that give Mineral Resources Minister
minerals can be open to abuse. This is where the
Mosebenzi Zwane the confidence to say that mining in
Department of Mineral Resources comes in, says Minister
South Africa is here to stay.
“There are natural resources estimated to the tune of
“The department is at the centre of ensuring ongoing
R50 trillion that are still untapped in South Africa. What
transformation of South Africa’s mining industry. We
we need to do, as a country, is ensure that we, inter alia,
provide the regulatory framework and implement policies
commit to continuous research.
that ensure all South Africans benefit from our mines.
“We have been on visits to many countries. People are
“We are of the view that the wealth of the country should
eager to come to South Africa to invest, so the future looks
be shared among the people and our department is there
bright in our mining industry, contrary to other views,” he
to ensure that this is done. Our priorities are in the areas
of policy certainty, health and safety and meaningful
In an interview with PSM recently, Minister Zwane commended the mining industry for working with
government during the difficult economic times that
began in 2008. Despite slow growth and a drop in demand,
One of the key achievements of the mining sector over
South Africa’s mines continued to be resilient, he says.
the years has been the industry’s ability to provide jobs to
“The economic downturn was not a South African
both skilled and unskilled workers. But with the economic
problem. What we have been saying to the industry is
downturn and drop in demand, job losses have become
that during the times of economic boom for the sector,
a reality. A challenging environment, both locally and
which I like to compare with summer, we must also prepare
globally, has placed a strain on commodities.
for winter. “We do this so that when winter comes, we do not call it a crisis. The industry itself is cyclical and we are starting to
However, without proper management of these mines
The department is aware that job cuts in the mining sector are likely to have a negative impact on the country's economy and increase unemployment.
Public Sector Manager • December 2016 / January 2017