Govt: Mining must regain competitiveness

2012-06-05 14:37

Johannesburg - The South African mining industry will regain its competitiveness as its growth constraints are addressed, said the mineral resources department on Tuesday.

The Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu had been scheduled to address a mining lekgotla in Midrand but her speech was read by Joe Raphela, deputy director general in her department, instead.

The minister urged delegates to harness the spirit of collaboration which had characterised the transition to democracy.

"We did this democracy thing ourselves. We did not ask outsiders to solve what were our own political problems."

Delegates should work together to outline a joint vision for the industry. Government was addressing the lack of infrastructure which had hampered growth, according to Shabangu.

Efforts were also being made to address the skills shortage. As a result, the industry would regain its competitiveness. It had already moved up in international rankings.

The Fraser Institute's mineral competitiveness index saw South Africa occupying 54th spot out of 93 countries.

This was an improvement of 13 places from 2010.

Cabinet's beneficiation policy, approved last year, would create jobs and enable further industrialisation, Shabangu's speech read.

In addition, the department itself was reviewing its internal processes to strengthen capacity. The Minerals and Petroleum Resources and Development Act (MPRDA) and Mine Health and Safety Act would also be reviewed.

Neville Nicolau, CEO of Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS], said South Africa's lack of competitiveness was a "real problem" given its mineral wealth.

The debate around nationalisation had resulted in a discussion around taxation, so that the country would benefit from the industry's success.

But the real problem, which had led to the call for nationalisation, had not been addressed.

"Unemployed youth is a real social problem that needs to be addressed," he said.