Democratic Alliance leader, Mmusi Maimane speaking to delegates at the Joburg Indaba 2017, said the mining industry could not afford to be trapped in the old paradigm of the apartheid era if it hoped to succeed.

Maimane said the mining industry should not be about being a source of instant wealth for a few people. He said it needed to change the attitude of hostility in the mining industry without replacing one racial elite, with another.

The DA leader narrated a story of a graduate who had approached him, discussing the difficulties he was experiencing whilst trying to attain a mining license. Maimane said the graduate had done all of the necessary ground work, had the necessary qualifications and skills and was still denied the license. Maimane narrates how the land for which the graduate’s applied license was for, was given to someone with no mining interests, no skills, and no qualifications.

Maimane used this scenario to highlight the problems with entry into the mining industry.

“All South Africans are doing is filling up mines without opening up new mines. New mining ventures in South Africa are not taking place. I’m not saying mining licenses are not being issued, mining rights have been issued, but to people with no experience and skills,” said Maimane.

Maimane said a solution to this problem was that if and when government issued mining licenses to individuals, the conditions should be that, if the licence was not (successfully) utilised, it goes back to the state and reissued to someone else.

“If we ensure we do that, people with prospective rights, who want to mine, work with a ‘use it or lose it’ condition attached to the license. If an entity does not use these rights, those must revert back to the state to ensure someone else gets a chance.”

Some other points Maimane touched on included,

  • The mining industry must rewrite the mining charter, with a once empowered always empowered clause
  • The interpretation of the rules should not rely on the goodwill of officials. He said there must be one standard interpretation laid out by legislation and enforced by the various arms of the state
  • Unionise mining unions into board level of mining companies
  • Formalise and assist those trading in informal trading of  the mining industry
  • He said there was a need for a more favourable tax regime -that  taxation should be lowered, to incentivise mining companies who create (permanent) jobs

Lastly Maimane concluded by saying that the industry had to look at mechansiation of mines, but not see it as a threat to jobs in the mining industry. But rather work with and prepare young South African learners for the forth industrial revolution.