JOHANNESBURG - The annual four-day Investing in African Mining Indaba, which begins in Cape Town today, will put the spotlight on whether South Africa is doing enough to ensure mine safely, transform, and find cost-effective ways to mine ageing ore bodies, among other things.

The indaba, the world’s largest mining investment conference dedicated to the development of mining in Africa, is also likely to reveal whether the relationship between the industry and government can be restored. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was scheduled to open the event this morning and promote South Africa’s mineral wealth and competitiveness.

Zwane’s message to thousands of delegates, including investors, bankers and executives, was to be delivered as the relationship between industry and government took a turn for the worse following the gazetting of the third version of the Mining Charter in June. The Chamber of Mines and the Department of Mineral Resources are now embroiled in a legal battle after the chamber approached the court to have the charter reviewed and set aside.

The matter will be heard in court later this month. The chamber said it had collaborated with the indaba team in trying to make the indaba more accessible and relevant. Chamber chief executive Roger Baxter said he was looking forward to the government engagement sessions “where critical issues like how to fix the trust deficit between the industry and governments, responsible mining and developing trust with communities will be discussed”.

On Thursday, the State of the Nation Address would be delivered by the president. “The signals we receive from both of these will be important to the mining industry. But of course the situation is extremely fluid,” said Baxter. The indaba comes days after the rescue of 955 miners who were trapped for 30 hours in an underground shaft at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix mine.