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‘More disclosure needed in SA mining’

Published Oct 3, 2013


Johannesburg - Mining firms have been urged to be more transparent in their disclosure to stakeholders, particularly on issues relating to their social and labour plans.

At the UN Principles for Responsible Investment’s (PRI’s) seventh annual PRI in Person conference, which is being held in Cape Town, Kigoda Consulting managing director Mike Davies said that communities living around mining operations often did not know what companies were doing with their labour and social plans.

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Davies also said mining companies needed to be more transparent on the matter of tax payments.

“Mining companies are big users of tax havens, which are being used to allow for the mispricing of assets… and which have contributed to the loss of billions of dollars of tax revenue for African countries,” Davies said. “This is an area that needs far more disclosure by mining companies.”

However, Cadiz Corporate Solutions mining consultant Peter Major said the South African mining industry was not only a “great business for the country and its people but is very transparent”.

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Major said the mining industry had “helped this country a lot” and cautioned that politicians were risking the future of the industry by using it as a political tool and not enforcing firm policies.

“Nobody will ever do another deep level mine in this country unless we change the [political] environment” to create certainty for investors.

Mineworkers Provident Fund chairman Martin Kuscus said that policy uncertainty was one of several problems facing the industry.

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“We did have a blueprint that addressed policy issues for the next 20 years, the National Development Plan, but that has been challenged and I do not know if the government has the political will to handle the challenge,” Kuscus said.

Other challenges included the volatility of commodity prices, low levels of industrialisation, the need for infrastructure development and social issues such as the inequality that characterised an industry that has generated tremendous wealth for some people.

Russell & Associates managing director Charmane Russell told the conference that the importance of sustainability was evident from the fact that most mining chief executives spent about 80 percent of their time dealing with “regulatory vagaries, the short-term focus of fund managers and the high expectations of communities”.

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Russell, who attributed last year’s tragedy at Marikana to the government’s lack of delivery, inter-union rivalry and political rivalry, said there was significant improvement in the level of collaboration among the key players in the past year.

Kuscus said that lack of leadership at the government, business and union level had all contributed to last year’s tragic events at Lonmin’s Marikana mine. He questioned why there was no unity in the business community and why it had not made any statement after the tragedy. - Business Report

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