President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Picture: Screengrab

Parliament, Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma warned mining companies to improve the housing conditions of their workers in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

“Let me also remind mining companies that 2014 is the deadline for them to improve housing and living conditions of mineworkers and to achieve a number of targets.

“Government continues to monitor and enforce compliance on both the company's social and labour plans and Mining Charter targets.”

Zuma said Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was still facilitating discussions between government, mining companies, and unions.

“The purpose is to stabilise industrial relations in this very important sector of our economy.”

The efforts were yielding results, and mining strikes were fewer and shorter last year.

“And more importantly, industrial relations processes are taking place in a manner consistent with the law.”

Government was intervening in mining because of the sector's importance in job creation.

“Mining employs over half a million people. It is the biggest earner of foreign exchange in our country. It also contributes about R20 billion directly to the tax revenue.

“Mining also makes a far larger contribution as a buyer of goods and services, and a supplier of inputs to other sectors of our economy and other economies around the globe,” Zuma said.