Deputy minister of mineral resources, Godfrey Oliphant, addressing the Young Leaders Career Development Programme during the closing day of the Mining Indaba on Thursday in Cape Town (Pic: DMR Twitter)

CAPE TOWN - South Africa's deputy mines minister Godfrey Oliphant on Thursday urged women and the youth to take up careers in mining and close the skills shortage gap so that the industry can achieve the transformation targets it seeks.

Speaking during the Young Leaders Career Development Programme on the final day of the Investing in African Mining Indaba, Oliphant said the industry offered an abundance of opportunities for South African youth as the country still had very good deposits and was assured of its existence for the next 100 years.  

He said the government was open to discussion on how it could assist young people to enter this key sector of the economy.

"We have 53 commodities that should be championed by young people in the country, particularly blacks and women. We have got too few women in the mining sector who are participating meaningfully," Oliphant said.

"We have sought to ensure that young people in high school obtain the necessary support in areas such as career guidance and the much-needed maths and science competencies. The Mining Qualifications Authority funds over 1000 bursars from universities, universities of technology and TVET colleges annually."

Oliphant also addressed the impasse between government and the industry over a mining charter introduced last year, saying laws should be looked at in the context of addressing the country's past through transformation.

"Laws in South Africa are not done out of spite. We want everyone to benefit from the mineral wealth. Laws in South Africa must be based on context. People tend to forget conveniently we were held back," Oliphant said, referring to black people who were discriminated against during apartheid.

"Systematically, we can work through the issues facing the country and the mining industry. Engagements such as this one are necessary for sustainability and development," he said.

"We cannot afford to have a mining industry in South Africa that sinks because it has always been the bedrock of our economy."

- African News Agency (ANA)