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Mining Indaba: Expectations are high for SA mining industry

This years Mining Indaba has brought a new optimism to Cape Town’s shores as investors received the news of the appointment of the new ANC President and the anticipated facelift in the country’s political and possibly economic landscape.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president may result in a boost in foreign direct investment (FDI) if the new leader of the ruling party implements measures seen as vital to draw in more cash, analysts said.

They add that Ramaphosa needs to do the following three things in order to revive investor interest,

  • needs to water down black ownership targets in mining,
  • roll out mobile broadband access
  • cut red tape in the labour market to revive investor interest

“Perhaps the approach of Cyril Ramaphosa in the current landscape is replicating the process adopted at CODESA in the early 90s – chipping away slowly and working towards a negotiated settlement – which was of course an effective long-term strategy in that instance.

“We are hoping that what, on the face of it, may seem to be a dragging of heels, is in fact a measured strategy towards achieving long-term positive change in the (mining) industry by the new leadership,” said Rashaad Carrim, partner in the Banking & Finance Practice at Webber Wentzel.

Although Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s speech stayed within fairly factual, banal parameters and was primarily retrospective, it would be remiss to expect someone in as tenuous a position as the Minister’s to say much more.

“We could perhaps even take some comfort in his saying less – had he made bolder, more committed statements, stakeholders would not have placed any reliance on it in any event.”

Among other things mentioned by Zwane in his keynote address, was his call for zero harm in the mining industry.

Zwane said, “Let me take this opportunity to invite you to participate at this year’s Biennial Mine Health and Safety Summit to be held in November, as this will provide for reflection and refinement of strategies and knowledge sharing towards meeting our target of achieving zero harm as an industry by 2024.

“We recognise companies such as De Beers, who have gone ten years without a fatality in their operations, and encourage more in the industry to achieve this milestone.

Johan Olivier who is a partner in the Employment, Health & Safety Practice at Webber Wentzel said, the Minister’s reference in his speech to zero harm in health & safety by 2024 is an unrealistic objective in an inherently dangerous industry.

“Let’s give real measures we can achieve,” said Olivier.

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