President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured investors that the South African government is working hard to remove blockages, including energy and port challenges, that are hampering the mining sector.
Ramaphosa delivered a keynote speech on Monday at the 30th anniversary opening ceremony of the Mining Indaba held at the Cape Town International Convention.
This year's theme is “Embracing the power of positive disruption: A bold new future for African Mining.”
Ramaphosa also hailed significant transformation of the sector.
“Over the past three decades, the mining industry has undergone significant transformation. Mining has been a pillar of the economy and 7.5% of GDP, and accounts for 60% of exports by value.
“In 2004, the year the Mining Charter was first introduced, black ownership in the industry stood at some 2%. Today this stands at approximately 39%. During apartheid, the mining sector was notorious for labour exploitation, human rights violations, and poor health and safety standards. Today, mines employ approximately 476 000 people. Mineworkers can organise and rights are protected,” he said.
Ramaphosa acknowledged that there were strong headwinds impeding mining performance domestically, placing serious pressure on mine operational costs.
He said the government had embarked on improvements after four key objectives to develop the sector and harness the global drive towards sustainable development, were identified last year.
“The first is to achieve a secure supply of electricity. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has secured 1 384 MW of new generation capacity that is currently in construction or already in operation. The Department has released requests for proposals for the procurement of 5 000 MW of renewable energy under Bid Window 7, 2 000 MW of gas-to-power and 615 MW of battery storage.
“Transmission capacity remains a challenge especially in the Cape provinces. Eskom has therefore recently published a curtailment regime which unlocks 3 470 MW of additional capacity in these provinces, and which will be essential to the success of Bid Window 7,” said Ramaphosa.
He said they had identified ways to accelerate economic reforms to improve the operating environment by instituting a number of measures to enable businesses to operate optimally.
“We committed in 2023 to improve the regulatory environment by developing and putting in place a new cadastral system to assist in the operation of a modern mining rights administration system. Now that we have a preferred bidder in place, we are confident that the speedy implementation of a modern world-class solution will clear the backlogs in prospecting and mining applications, and pave the way for the development of new mines,” he added.
Meanwhile, Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has set a deadline of 12 months to ensure that migration to the new cadastre system is completed and operational.
The new system will replace the current SAMRAD system, criticised for often being non-functional and open to manipulation.
“The DMRE has procured a service provider for the design, implementation, and maintenance of a mining licensing system to enhance efficiency and transparency in the application, granting, and management of prospecting, and mining rights permits. We are optimistic that the PMG Consortium will deliver the required system that will assist in the operation of a modern and effective mining rights administration system. The implementation of the new licensing system will take place over a period of time, as it requires migration of existing data from the old to the new system,” said Mantashe.