(File image) Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - South Africans will feel the negative effects of the illegal strikes across the mining sector next year, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Thursday.

“We have lost 37 percent of our trading partners from Europe... This action (the strikes) will cause a big bang... a negative bang,” she said.

Shabangu said fewer contributions would be made towards education and health next year because of the strikes at the mines.

She was speaking at the Young Communist League of South Africa’s open dialogue on the mining sector and opportunities for young people in the sector at the University of Johannesburg.

Also under discussion were the ownership of South African mines and the problems which led to 46 deaths during a strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg.

Shabangu questioned the logic in calling for the nationalisation of mines when most of them had been mined for a long time.

“If the state takes over, some (mines) have already been mined for over 100 years... The government would be taking on debt and the liability to rehabilitate... for example Aurora.”

Transformation within the sector was necessary, but only those who were educated would be able to play a part in the process of transformation, said Shabangu.

She urged young people to equip themselves with skills which would enable them to contribute to the mining sector.

YCLSA national secretary Buti Manamela said Shabangu should be more concerned about the “people” rather than investors.

He agreed that young people had to arm themselves with skills before being part of the mining sector.

He said it was unacceptable that shareholders of mines such as Aurora were living in luxury while the workers at the same mines were starving. - Sapa