Minerals Council South Africa, previously known as the Chamber of Mines, will be led by a woman for the first time in its 131-year history after veteran executive Nolitha Fakude was voted president during the council’s annual general meeting (AGM) held virtually yesterday. Photo: Michele Cilliers
Minerals Council South Africa, previously known as the Chamber of Mines, will be led by a woman for the first time in its 131-year history after veteran executive Nolitha Fakude was voted president during the council’s annual general meeting (AGM) held virtually yesterday. Photo: Michele Cilliers

History embraces Fakude as first woman in 131 years to head the family jewels

By Dineo Faku Time of article published May 27, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - MINERALS Council South Africa, previously known as the Chamber of Mines, will be led by a woman for the first time in its 131-year history after veteran executive Nolitha Fakude was voted president during the council’s annual general meeting (AGM) held virtually yesterday.

Fakude, who was previously Sasol’s vice-president for strategy and sustainability and currently chairs the board of Anglo American plc’s South African business, said her vision was propelled by #MakingMiningMatter.

“Personally, I am inspired by the fact that we have got the possibility as an industry to become catalysts of economic growth of the country,” said Fakude.

Fakude succeeds Mxolisi Mgojo, Exxaro Resources’ chief executive, while the new vice-presidents are Northam Platinum’s chief executive, Paul Dunne; Kumba Iron Ore’s chief executive, Themba Mkhwanazi; and Harmony Gold Mining Company’s chief executive, Peter Steenkamp.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said after 131 years of existence of the Minerals Council (MCSA), and 135 years of official mining in South Africa, Ms Nolitha Fakude was the first woman to be elected as president to lead the institution and a valued social partner in South Africa’s mining industry. Her election adds to the gains achieved since the dawn of democracy in South Africa.

“One of the greatest injustices we have managed to address through our transformation agenda, is the recognition of women in the mining sector,” said Mantashe at the 131st AGM of the MCSA, which elected Ms Nolitha Fakude and her collective as office bearers for 2021/2022.

“It is not a secret that women were previously not allowed to work in the mines.

“Today, we have skilled women actively involved in the industry, such as Ms Nolitha, and many others, who are serving as geologists, engineers and chief executives at the helm of big mining companies,” added Mantashe.

“The department wishes Ms Nolitha and her collective well. We will continue working with the newly elected leadership in our endeavours to fully transform and grow the mining sector.

Minister Mantashe congratulated the newly elected office bearers of the MCSA.

The council’s new executive will have to hit the ground running as the industry has seen increasing incidents of social unrest and crime.

A senior Richards Bay Minerals manager was shot on Monday morning, while junior copper producer Orion Minerals in Prieska, Northern Cape, had to approach the courts to stop armed protesters from disrupting its operations.

Speaking on the sidelines of the AGM, council chief executive Roger Baxter said security was a problem, citing that in 2019 there had been a significant number of attacks on precious metal companies by armed gangs, although due to Covid-19 armed robberies became less of an issue last year.

“We have recently seen that the procurement mafia is shutting down towns like Prieska and others.

“This is not something unique to mining, but has also affected the construction sector,” said Baxter, adding that copper theft was also a challenge for the industry.

“There is a high level of engagement, not just with the government, but with Eskom and Transnet.

“You must remember that copper theft issues are affecting the delivery of rail wagons for example on the chrome, iron ore and coal side, and it is also affecting Eskom’s ability to deliver electricity to our members,” said Baxter.

Dunne said security would be high on the agenda for office bearers in the year ahead. “The office bearers and the full board are well aware of the severity of the incidents.

“There are unfortunately more below the surface associated with bad behaviour and surrounding procurement opportunities.

“We must differentiate between genuine community concerns and this mafia behaviour that we have seen in a number of areas in the country, not just in Richards Bay,” said Dunne.

Escalating power costs and load shedding have resulted in companies exploring ways to generate their own electricity.

Gold Fields earlier this month announced its decision to construct a 40 megawatt solar plant at its South Deep mine.

Baxter said the industry was working to resolve challenges facing the mining industry to improve the investment attractiveness and open opportunities in the sector.

“There is agreement on the need to unblock self-generation opportunities. South Deep was a starting point.

“As a sector we have 2.4 gigawatts of power that we can bring on stream that can unlock potential growth and future opportunities,” said Baxter.

However, work-related fatalities climbed to 27 this year, up from 19 during the same period last year, while 400 workers had succumbed to Covid19 to date.

Baxter said the mining industry encouraged its employees to go for vaccinations, and had a target of 90 percent vaccination.

Baxter said only around 5 000 of the mining industry’s workforce was more than 60.

“It does not have a huge impact on the numbers, but has a huge impact in terms of the risk to those people, because an over-60 is six times more likely to die from Covid compared to a 40-year-old,” said Baxter.

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