Johannesburg - Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the AU, wants global mining companies operating on the continent to improve the quality of lives of all their employees and communities.
Speaking at the third annual mining lekgotla at Gallagher Estate north of Johannesburg last week, Dlamini-Zuma said there should be equal treatment for mineworkers working on the continent and abroad.
“It cannot be right that the companies treat employees differently. What is good for the Australian miner should be good for the South African and Ghanaian miners,” she said with reference to salaries and working conditions.
Dlamini-Zuma also said that the continent should plan to meet the needs of its population which was expected to grow to 2 billion by 2050.
In resource-endowed African countries infrastructure, including water and roads, was often built only for the mining sector while nearby villages were left undeveloped, and this had to come to an end, she said.
The lekgotla, which ended on Thursday, is a think tank hosted by the Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Department of Mineral Resources.
The mining sector acknowledged that it was in a crisis, and joint intervention was required to tackle challenges.
However solutions were missing from the lekgotla which offered presentations and debates on a range of topics including the sector's challenging labour environment, beneficiation, the legacy of mining activities for communities and gender equality.
Minister of Mineral Resources Ngoako Ramathlodi set the scene by calling for a review of legislation to address protracted labour disruptions following the five-month platinum belt strike which ended in June.
Andile Sangqu, a speaker at the event and the chairman of the Chamber of Mines’ state intervention in mining (Sims) committee, said on Wednesday that the sector had been caught napping because of a lack of commitment.
He suggested that the sector regroup and tackle challenges head on.
The mining growth development and employment task team (Migdett), which was formed in 2008 to deal with the impacts of the economic downturn, had lost momentum, Sangqu said.
“We have a crisis of expectations... and we need collective wisdom to address this. Why do we seek short-term solutions to problems?” he asked.
Both the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which led the five-month strike, and communities snubbed the invitation to participate.
Communities held an alternative lekgotla and led a march to the chamber’s lekgotla on Wednesday where they handed over a memorandum of their grievances.
“It's a pity they don't want to be part of the engagement, but their absence does not mean we will stop talking to our stakeholders,” Khanyisile Kweyama, the deputy president of the chamber, said.
Wickus Botha, of Ernst & Young, said Amcu had missed an opportunity to set the record straight on what they stood for.
Amcu did not sign the mining industry framework agreement, led by then-deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe.