Cape Town - Mining magnate and president of the South African Mining Development Association (Samda) Bridgette Radebe has slammed the "fruitless" way black economic empowerment (BEE) has been implemented in the mining sector.
Addressing a parliamentary committee overseeing public hearings on the creation of a state-owned mining company on Wednesday, Radebe argued government has all the tools it needs to bring about transformation in the mining sector.
Only a few benefited from the country's mineral wealth not so much because the state did not have a mining company, but because government's "very good" BEE laws, charters and policies were not being implemented as they should, said Radebe.
"We are appealing to South Africa Pty Ltd to tell the truth about the way in which BEE legislation is very useful but has been fruitlessly implemented. How can we address this?" said Radebe, who is also vice chairperson of the Minerals and Mining Development Board.
Radebe said the fact that not even 15% of the mining sector was black-owned made it clear the country would never reach the mining charter's 2014 deadline of 26% black ownership.
Samda chairperson Nchakha Maloyi echoed Radebe's sentiments, saying the current BEE status quo was a "vicious cycle" that was not only failing to empower people, but leaving BEE companies heavily indebted.
Although Samda did not have any preference on whether government should form a state mining company, it stressed that a state-owned firm was not a panacea. It had to be properly run and resourced if it was to be successful and achieve the goal of transformation and economic growth.
Maloyi stressed there were examples across the globe of successful state-owned mining companies which operate side by side with private sector.
"If this exists in South Africa, there would absolutely be no problem," Maloyi said. "The important thing is not that we are blessed with mineral resources. At the end of the day, these will be depleted and we will be left with a hole in the ground. We have to find ways to use our mineral wealth to industrialise our country.
"It is completely unacceptable that a person spends a lifetime in a mine with a drill and when they get retrenched, they go back to the homelands unable to do anything but drill."