CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s chamber of mines is more optimistic about the future of mining in the country after the ruling ANC party’s conference last year which elected deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as its leader,  CEO Roger Baxter said on Monday.

"There's a positive wind blowing," Baxter told a news conference ahead of the start of the annual "Mining Indaba" in Cape Town.

"We know the future holds challenges, but we are ready to stand and play our role as the chamber, leading the industry in engaging with other stakeholders  to get the outcomes that are necessary to get this great industry back on track."

He, however, said the industry had lost faith in Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane's leadership. The chamber says uncertainty over policy and the regulatory environment intensified after Zwane unveiled a Mining Charter last year which the sector slammed as impractical and poorly drafted.

Baxter said  the mining sector had been significantly held back for the last couple of years by governance and leadership issues which had impacted negotiations over issues like the mining charter.

"Effectively we’ve got a charter in place which is the DMR’s (department of mineral resources) charter, it’s not our charter. What South Africa needs is a charter that is negotiated in the boardroom," Baxter said.

"The first two charters were founded basis of tripartite negotiations. Why does this minister come along and think it has to be different and try to impose a totally unworkable charter on the industry which has caused a massive destruction from an investment perspective. Investors are saying that this is not practically possible."

Baxter said Ramaphosa's election was "a very positive development".

"He is a very key leader to drive reform for the whole country and not just for mining. And we can realize the potential of mining if we have a team South Africa approach where all stakeholdres are working together."

The government and labour have also accused mining companies of pursuing profit at the expense of workers safety, an issue which came into focus last week when more than 950 workers were trapped at Stillwater-Sibanye’s Beatrix mine in Free State after a power outage.

- African News Agency (ANA)