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Mining must transform fast - Shabangu

The South African mining industry needs to achieve transformation goals faster to achieve authenticity, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said in Johannesburg on Monday.

“I cannot emphasise enough that unless the mining industry can claim its legitimacy to all its stakeholders, namely investor, workers, host communities, host government, etc, it cannot claim its authenticity,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery at a New Age business breakfast in Sandton.

Susan Shabangu Minister of Miniral Resources. Photo: Leon Nicholas. Credit: INLSA

In South Africa, those involved in the mining sector had worked hard to keep the industry competitive, while implementing transformation measures, but areas of concern remained.

These concerns needed to be addressed to root out historic problems.

Shabangu made reference to the recent violent confrontations at Lonmin's Marikana mine, where police killed 34 people and wounded 78 in a clash on August 16.

“Whilst we acknowledge the significance of the Marikana ordeal, it is apt for the industry to have a conversation about the underpinnings of such a problem, anticipate other potential challenges, and recommend a concrete plan of action that will ensure responsible action from all stakeholders.”

HEALTH AND SAFETY

She said there was a need for greater attention to health and safety matters, particularly in gold and platinum operations.

The migrant labour system remained entrenched in the industry, which resulted in the workers leading “dual lives” and the areas where they came from usually did not benefit.

Large wage disparities prevalent in the sector were also of concern, she said.

“To what extent is this likely to threaten not only the very democratic gains of the past 18 years, but sustainability of the very mining industry in South Africa?”

Shabangu said the government was working on a “one-stop shop” approach to licensing requirements for mining, to correct the fragmented approach now in use.

“We need to build a mining industry that cares, a mining industry that is proud to be part of the transformation agenda of South Africa, because transformation is... not just a compliance issue.” -Sapa

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