Addressing delegates and media at Cape Town’s international convention centre, Zwane said, “When we met here last year, we reflected on the cyclical nature of mining, and the fact that we were in the winter season.
“At that time we predicted that the winter will come to an end, and that we should be better prepared for the new summer in the sector. There are now signs that we are entering a new spring.
“A new balance is emerging in the demand and supply for mineral resources. There has been a remarkable recovery of prices during the latter part of 2016, more particularly with commodities such as coal, iron, ferromanganese and zinc.
“These market dynamics need to be entrenched and supported by stakeholders working in concert to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the industry.”
Zwane applauded government initiatives in mining, that aimed to make the environment more investor friendly, and called on investors to come to South Africa and engage the country frankly, in moving towards transformation of the country’s economy. “We will continue to have an open door policy,” said Zwane.
He noted the governments intention to remain committed to the principle of shared prosperity and responsible investment in the mining sector, and stressed that government would not tolerate threats by industry members who run to the courts when they do not get their way.
“We don’t want people to adhere to a norm where they take us to court if they don’t agree with us.
“We’re determined to reach our objectives,” said Zwane. “If we believe we’re correct no one should threaten us. We’re here to govern and we’ll do exactly that.”
The minister also stressed the Government’s commitment to enforcing the mining charter, which will see the final version gazetted by March 2017. He noted that the revised charter will be reflective of the views of stakeholders, in the interests of South Africa and provide for investor certainty.
“The Department will continue to enforce the legislation consistently, and I have full confidence in the officials who administer these laws.”
The minister touched briefly on illicit financial flows and miners who are responsible for tax evasion. Commenting on the point, Stephen Brabant, chair of mining, Herbert Smith Freehills, noted that such practices by miners constituted as human rights violations. He stated that these such practices resulted in disgruntled community members who cry foal when miners do not contribute to uplifting communities and to corporate social investment initiatives.
“Mining companies should not behave in a way that brings suspicion,” said Brabant. “Any suspicion of wrong-doing dampens investor confidence and makes it hard to implement transformation strategies.”