A mineworker works at the rock face at the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd is the world's second-biggest platinum producer. Photographer: Nadine Hutton/Bloomberg News

Johannesburg - The mining sector needs to acknowledge it has a crisis on its hands, Chamber of Mines state intervention in the minerals sector (Sims) committee chairman Andile Sangqu said on Wednesday.

“The tensions in mining right now means the stakes are high and the need for resolution is urgent,” he said at the mining lekgotla in Midrand.

“This quite frankly is very serious.”

However, with cool heads and calm deliberation the industry could reassess where it came from.

Sangqu said he was hopeful that things could change if everyone worked together.

He gave the lekgotla two challenges in terms of transformation.

Firstly, the industry needed to get serious about revitalising the existing engagement structures and secondly, not to shy away from discussing economic growth and developing practical steps.

“The fact is we have good existing structures designed to support us in the mining transformation journey.

“Why do we only feel comfortable talking meaningfully in times of crisis? Why do we only apply ourselves with energy and focus when the house is on fire?” Sangqu asked.

A solution which worked for everyone needed to be found.

The mining framework agreement, set up by former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, was one of the structures but it was handicapped by the fact that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union had not signed it.

“We cannot proceed without everyone on board.”

In terms of economic growth, Sangqu said there was not enough talk about what would happen if the economy did not grow.

“Transformation becomes more difficult to achieve when there is no economic growth. We need to have tough discussions about productivity... particularly in the platinum sector.”

The country recently emerged from a five-month strike on the platinum belt in the North West.

He said labour needed to understand how productivity played a role in creating jobs. - Sapa