Mantashe’s reappointment: He must focus on making SA mining investor-friendly

Mineral Resources and Petroleum Minister Gwede Mantashe. Photo: AYANDA NDAMANE Independent Newspapers

Mineral Resources and Petroleum Minister Gwede Mantashe. Photo: AYANDA NDAMANE Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 3, 2024


South Africa’s mining industry believes the reappointment of Gwede Mantashe to head up the minerals portfolio will ensure continuity in terms of policy engagements, while some industry players want the new new administration to work round the clock in attracting investment into the sector.

Mantashe was reappointed to head the key mining sector under a revamped minerals and petroleum resources portfolio on Sunday.

His re-appointment to the Cabinet – criticised by some lobby groups amid high expectations from labour for him to bring an end to job losses – comes at a time SA miners are facing logistics, infrastructure, and capital constraints.

Mining sector players told Business Report yesterday they wanted Mantashe to drum up support and push policies that attract investment into SA’s mineral exploration sector.

“The Department of Minerals under Mantashe has a greater duty in this new term in attracting more foreign direct investment into SA mining,” Vuslat Bayoglu, Managing Director for Menar, told Business Report in an interview.

“They (Mantashe’s department) need to collaborate with the mining industry to create mechanisms to make South Africa attractive for exploration and mining.”

Meanwhile, the Minerals Council said Mantashe’s reappointment gave continuity in the engagements and relationship it has fostered since his appointment in 2018 to reposition the mining sector to realise its full potential.

“The separation of the minerals and energy portfolios will allow Minister Mantashe to focus on and give urgency to creating the right legislative environment to grow the mining industry by encouraging investments in exploration, new mine development, and existing operations,” Mzila Mthenjane, CEO of the Minerals Council said.

Moreover, added Mthenjane, “the continuity provided by (President Cyril) Ramaphosa with the reappointment of Mantashe allows us to persevere and elevate our engagements to create an enabling environment” for the mining sector.

According to the Minerals Council, a major priority for SA’s mining industry under the new administration is the need to harmonise regulatory requirements in various departments to expedite processing of rights to explore, build a mine or expand existing operations.

The council said it was important for the Department of Minerals and Petroleum Resources to lead the coordination among other portfolios such as the departments of Water, Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment among others.

Of equal importance was also implementation of the mining cadastre, a digital platform to transparently, and efficiently managing mineral rights applications and licences, the council said.

Despite the warm welcome from mining industry players for Mantashe’s re-appointment, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Monday said Mantashe “has overstayed his welcome”, as he has “done far too much damage to the mining industry to have been allowed to continue to head up this crucial portfolio”.

The impact of logistical and infrastructure challenges such as water, rail and ports was still being felt by bulk commodity miners, despite some improvement in electricity supply to the miners and steady progress by Transnet, on the back of private and public sector collaborations to solve some of the challenges parastatals were facing.