How SA plans to combat the challenges facing the platinum industry

Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu
A special task team, set up by the Department of Mineral Resources, will address current challenges facing the platinum sector with the intention to put in place a short and medium to long term plan for the sector.

This comes after a meeting by Mineral Resources minister, Susan Shabangu, with South African platinum producers and Mining Industry Growth and Development Task Team (MIGDETT) Principals regarding the challenges facing the platinum industry in South Africa.

Shabangu says that stakeholders collectively agreed to engage on ideas to enrich the work of the task team.“The future of mining in South Africa is predicated on sustainable growth and meaningful transformation. We have recognised this fact in 2010, while the rest of the world was busy pointing fingers at each other in the wake of the economic crisis. 

"We came together under the auspices of MIGDETT to make a joint declaration on the future of mining, and placed at the center of that sustainable growth and meaningful transformation," says Shabangu.

Anecdotal evidence about the slow pace of transformation has been rife and emotive, but the evidence collected by Shabangu's department in their audit of Mining Charter compliance reports reveals:
  • There are unsatisfactory levels of implementation of Employment Equity;
  • progress is even worse at senior management level (especially in decision-making);
  • structures remain largely devoid of proper demographic representation;
  • fronting is rampant (in particular by women on behalf of men);
  • there is a growing practice of unilateral changes to approved social and labour plans;
  • lack of willing of suppliers of capital goods to transform and to transfer skills to the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) entities; and 
  • the tendency of BEE entities to be contracted only in peripheral services (catering, cleaning, toilet tissue supplies and gardening services) where the procurement spend is insignificant.

Going forward we need to ensure we continue this constructive engagement on short to long term infrastructure requirements underpinning the envisaged growth and linkages of the mining industry.

Also critical to ensuring sustainable growth and development of the industry will be instilling a culture of innovation and investment in research and development in the mining sector. In this regard, the country should focus its R&D and innovation efforts in the fields of geology, mining technology and mineral processing. 

The future of the mining industry also requires a concerted effort to support domestic mineral beneficiation. Beneficiation of South Africa's minerals is a critical component of the nation's industrial and economic development framework. 

To this end, a beneficiation strategy has been developed, to maximize the returns from the exploitation of our mineral resources.

“It is not our intention to force mining companies into being manufacturers, but rather to address the challenge of the inaccessibility of our raw materials as an impediment to greater local beneficiation,” says  Shabangu.

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Issue 42