Johannesburg - The nationalisation debate will remain unless the
mining industry gets the support of people living around mines, Mintek
CEO Abie Mngomezulu said on Tuesday.
"Without having those communities on our side, we will
always have those problems of nationalisation," he said at the Mining
for Change seminar in Johannesburg.
In the past, mines went to rural areas, erected a shaft, built hostels, bussed in men and provided food and accommodation.
This later changed to a housing allowance and food rations, but expectations of paternalism remained.
It set off the current mushrooming of squatter camps
around mines, because people still expected this support from mines.
Families living around mines watched outsiders come in and get jobs,
when their own children, even if they had qualifications, could not.
"And we think those children won't fight for
nationalisation? I don't think we will be in a better position going
forward until we resolve the problem of the communities in the mining
The example of the Bafokeng - who are in empowerment
agreements with mining companies operating where they live in the North
West - should be looked at, he said.
African National Congress MP Faith Bikani, who serves
on parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources, said the ANC's
policies were not about the "selfishness of the state".
"The principal objective is to transform mining to serve all," she said.
On a recent visit to a mine in the Free State, she
found there were still single sex hostels for women miners, who were
breadwinners with families, in spite of commitments by the human
settlements department to meet companies half way with housing
The actual meaning of "nationalisation" - whether it was 100% state ownership or not - also needed to be decided.
"It's about how we understand nationalisation. If we
just talk about the state nationalising mines, it's not possible. We are
not in a position to afford it."
On Friday, at the conclusion of its policy conference,
the ANC said it had decided not to pursue the nationalisation of mines,
but to move towards greater state intervention.
Anglo Gold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani said the ANC had
managed the discussions well, but more was needed, and the industry had
to be involved.
If it did not participate, it would have only itself to blame later.
Until the threat of losing ownership of critical assets was removed, investors would be scared of a full commitment, he said.
Business Day reported that Fitch, Moody's and Standard
& Poor global ratings agencies had given their credit ratings for
South Africa a negative outlook, which meant the next move could be a
Fitch reportedly cited the "failure to put a nail in the coffin of nationalisation" as a reason.
Cutifani said: "The 'n-word' is really a symptom of
another conversation, and the real conversation is really around social
On a recent trip to Guinea, he found that although 10% of the local community was employed because of the mines, the
prices of goods and services for the rest of the community had risen
because of the mining activity.
Roleplayers had to find a way of making sure the rest of the community was also better off.
This involved more discussions with them on finding out what they wanted, and training them to ask the right questions.
The mining industry contributes 45% to global gross domestic product and is one of the few industries with the capital available to
develop infrastructure such as roads, which help communities.
Companies, governments and institutions such as the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund had a chance to work together
to provide an infrastructure strategy that could be adopted in Africa,
instead of aid.
"We just need to have the conversation," he said.