Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - Mining must be used to benefit the majority of the country's people, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Wednesday.

“We have a collective duty and responsibility to recognise our ugly and unhappy past, and to act in concert to shape our common future,” he said at a mining lekgotla in Midrand.

“We must engage candidly about the state of the mining industry in South Africa.”

It had been 10 years since the introduction of legislation such as the Mineral Resources Development Act and the Mining Charter.

Ramatlhodi said the country had huge expectations on how far it had come in implementing the promises made a decade ago.

“As matters stand the transformation project has delivered varied results,” he said.

“Whilst the review process on the implementation of the Mining Charter is still underway, initial results suggest that whatever compliance we may have achieved, much more work still needs to be done.”

Efforts towards transformation needed to be doubled to regain the confidence of workers and communities in the mining sector.

The rising tension between mining companies and communities and labour relations problems, most notably in the platinum sector showed that things needed to be done differently.

The country had recently come out of a five-month long strike on the platinum belt in the North West.

Ramatlhodi acknowledged mining companies had embraced transformation, not only as a compliance matter but as a tool for reconciliation and social cohesion.

“These companies have understood that transformation is not just a cost burden, but a business imperative which delivers good business results,” he said.

In 2010, the mining industry signed a declaration on the strategy for sustainable growth and meaningful transformation.

Ramatlhodi said his department would review the strategy in the current medium term strategic framework.

“I believe this platform will be critical to assist us to see how best we can position the industry going forward, looking critically at what has been achieved and what challenges still remain.”

Skills development would be critical in moving forward.

He said his department would work with the department of higher education to make sure future engineers, environmental scientists, surveyors and geologists were trained.

Ramatlhodi urged the industry to do the same and assist in the skills shortage.

“This is a time to renew the industry's commitment to make real and meaningful contributions to the resolution of socio-economic struggles unfolding in our country.

“We have a unique opportunity to change this industry for the better, and to ensure that it better represents our ideals and developmental objectives as a country,” he said. - Sapa