Ed's letter August

Salute to our wonderful women


We often give ourselves a hard time about the lack of transformation in South Africa, but if one looks at the mining industry, at least at boardroom level, women are represented better than a lot of our so-called developed partners.

What does the word developed actually mean? Developed to the extent that there is little room for growth? Perhaps. If I were an investor, surely a developing market has more potential for profit, as with great inefficiencies comes more room to improve.

South Africa and Africa in general have a lot of room to improve, which is good. Citizens enjoy more freedoms in places like South Africa, than compared to say the United States, which has over 900 000 sworn cops, making it a police state for all intensive purposes, and one of the biggest organisations over there.

Sometimes South Africans take their freedom for granted. An inefficient police force is sometimes less damaging than an overzealous one. Having said that, in the wake Marikana, our police were over the top and have been showing a tendency towards violence in recent times, which reminds one of the pre 1994 ways of handling riots.

On a more positive note, good news for the platinum industry is an increase in demand globally, which is timely for an industry that has taken a few hits over the years. This is largely coming from the platinum battery boom and other electronics that can utilise it. It’s a pity this surge did not come a little earlier to save some of the mines getting mothballed a couple of years ago. Re-opening is not cheap.

Speaking to some of the CEOs in South Africa, it seems mine mechanisation is closer than we think, as government and business is now pushing this process, in consultation with the unions, I’m told. This has to be done correctly to avoid more bloodshed. Alternative industry training needs to be provided to give less skilled workers a chance of getting another job.

The upside of mine mechanisation will be a benefit to the environment, the introduction of cutting edge technology, and breaking up the fraught migrant labour system that has led to a variety of social and health problems, for those living in dire conditions at times.

So let’s embrace the future as a bright one.


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Issue 42