The mining industry needs to be transformed, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Friday night.
“The mining industry is facing challenges, it is visibly clear that urgent interventions need to be put in place to enhance workers' skills,” she said at a black business awards ceremony in Boksburg.
“The mining industry needs to transform to make sure that we are able to be competitive, but are also able to contribute positively and become a sector... that's a sunshine industry.
“The future is bright, we've got to do the right things.”
For the transformation to take place various groups needed to become part of the skills development needed in the sector.
Shabangu said the mining industry could create many opportunities for the country.
“As we all know it is the backbone of the South African economy.”
Broad-based black economic empowerment had to spread benefits beyond entrepreneurs and include communities, she said.
Women should not be left behind when building the economy.
She said the country was grappling with unprecedented tension in labour relations, compounded by a fairly bleak, short-term economic outlook.
“The country has recently received its first foreign credit ratings downgrade since democracy, which indicates the extend to which we need to work harder to restore confidence of the investment community and the people of South Africa.”
The downgrade of the government's bond rating by credit ratings agency Moody's had made it more expensive for South Africa to secure the resources needed for development.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's on Tuesday warned it could downgrade Anglo Gold Ashanti's credit rating.
“Stabilisation of business and the economy becomes more important than it was yesterday,” said Shabangu.
Businesses needed to work together with the government.
“Let's work together to resolve what we are seeing as a threat to our democracy, a threat to our economy.
“It has become clear that we have to create adequate space for the people of South Africa to heal from the lasting wounds of the apartheid state.” - Sapa