Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi

Johannesburg - The mining sector plays a critical role in South Africa's economy, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

“It has many linkages to the rest of the economy... Estimates of total GDP 1/8gross domestic product 3/8 contribution, including indirect and multiplier impacts and sectors that rely on mining activities range from 15 percent to 18 percent,” he said at the mining lekgotla gala dinner at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

“As a proportion of total gross fixed capital formation, mining's share was at 12 percent in 2012.”

Mining commodities accounted for 46 percent of exports in the fourth quarter of last year, and downstream, mineral-related manufacturing exports accounted for 14 percent.

Radebe said mining was a critical source of investment.

“The mining industry is closely linked to the history and economic development of our country.

“The sustainability of this industry, and its continued contribution to our economic development should... be of interest to all South Africans,” he said.

Radebe was addressing the gala dinner in President Jacob Zuma's place. Zuma had to attend a summit of the international conference on the Great Lakes Region in Angola.

Radebe said the role of mining had been outlined in the National Development Plan, and last week government released the medium-term strategic framework (MTSF) as part of the implementation of the plan.

He urged the lekgotla to look at how the mining industry could respond to the goals set out in the MTSF.

The main theme of discussions at the lekgotla on Wednesday was transformation and women in mining.

Radebe said he was not oblivious to efforts made by some in the industry to respond to socioeconomic needs of the country.

“Minerals by definition belong to the people as a whole, it is imperative that we are seen as ensuring that this indeed becomes a reality on how this industry embraces equity across the race and gender.

“The dividend of mining minerals must ultimately accrue to the whole economy and by extension to the people as a whole,” he said.

Not all industry players had stuck to the letter and spirit of the Mining Charter.

However, finger-pointing would not help, he said.