Cape Town - South African minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, assured investors and stakeholders on Monday that the government would act on finalising outstanding mining legislation and deal with uncertainty in the mining industry.
Delivering a keynote address at the opening of the "Investing in African Mining Indaba" in Cape Town, Zwane said the South African government had been hard at work to improve regulatory efficiency through the integration of the applications for mining and related rights, water use and environmental permits.
Zwane, who was addressing the Mining Indaba for the second time since his appointment in September 2015, said the recovery of commodity prices signalling market rebound needed to be entrenched and supported by stakeholders working in concert to ensure the sustainability and resilience of the industry.
"As I committed last year, government will do its part by ensuring an enabling environment for investment in South Africa. 2017 is going to be the year of action for the industry," Zwane said.
"We have put all efforts in place to ensure that amendments to the principal mining legislation - the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act - are processed and finalised as a matter of urgency. This process is well underway and public hearings are taking place towards the finalisation of the Bill. We expect it to be concluded by June 2017."
Zwane called upon investors to come to South Africa and engage government frankly on the revised Mining Charter, the regulatory tool governing transformation in the sector. The final Mining Charter is expected to be gazetted by the end of March and would be reflective of the views of stakeholders and provide for investor certainty.
Zwane also said that beneficiation remained government's priority. He said that government believed that most job opportunities lay with small to medium companies, hence in 2017, the focus would be on the Promotion of Investment, with a special focus on junior miners. "Beneficiation remains a priority in South Africa, and we are inviting investors and mining companies, to look to this as an opportunity for partnership and a mechanism for ensuring stable and growing demand for mineral resources," Zwane said.
"In our efforts to support investment in mining and beneficiation, we have a particular focus on the growth and promotion of small and medium sized enterprises. We are of the firm view that a new era of junior to mid-tier sized mines is upon us."
Over the course of 150 years, the mining industry has grown to contribute about eight percent directly to South Africa's gross domestic product and just under 460 000 direct jobs, with an estimated $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in non-energy mineral reserves still in-situ.
Zwane also welcomed the peaceful conclusion of the 2016 wage negotiations in the platinum and coal sectors, saying that government saw that as a sign of the further strengthening of relationships and systems put in place.
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY