SA's exploration investment lowest since democracy began.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister,Gwede Mantashe, says despite a Gauteng High Court judgment setting aside key parts of the Mining Charter relating to transformation last month, government "remains committed to the transformation" of the industry.
Mantashe was speaking during the mining industry’s annual Joburg Indaba.
In the ruling, the court set aside:
- The charter's principle, which required an increase of black ownership in mining houses from 26% to 30%.
- The provision that allowed government to cancel or suspend licences of mining houses which did not comply.
Mantashe revealed that since the ruling, government has met with industry leaders and agreed in principle to "continue with the objective" of transformation.
"Transformation is not about numbers. It is about changing the system. Many of us don’t appreciate that mining was at the core of the apartheid system in the country. No blasting certificate could be given to a black person then. This has changed. We must change the system in the mining industry.
"It is with this reason that we continue to implement the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the Mining Charter. These are regulatory instruments premised on achieving transformation,"he said.
The Minister warned that the industry could not afford to skip transformation, as this is key to the economic emancipation of black people.
"Transformation is an imperative for the future of the industry. Transformation is not going to be [a] gift. It must be managed. Failure to transform the industry would mean we subscribe to a principle of depriving black people of empowerment. Transformation cannot be theoretical, it must be practical. We must be seen transforming the industry," he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister said an exploration strategy for the mining industry is ready to be tabled before Cabinet for approval.
"The strategy is aimed at securing at least 5% of the global share of exploration expenditure in the next five years. We don’t expect private institutions to invest in exploration. We will push government to invest in exploration, working with the [State-owned] Council for Geoscience, and in partnership with private organisations. There are a lot of unknown deposits in the country. We must explore, mine, and grow the mining industry,"Mantashe said.
He said the strategy would also address regulatory "bottlenecks", which may be hampering the growth of the industry.
"Various sets of interventions have been proposed in the strategy from addressing regulatory bottlenecks, updating our geoscience data and assisting junior exploration companies, amongst other interventions,"the minister said.
Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) director-general Advocate Thabo Mokoena, who promised that the DMRE would have an exploration strategy in place by early January, which did not happen.
A slide projected on to attendee computer screens showed that investment in exploration in 1994 was four times the R1-billion of 2020.
The slide showed that the very same mining industry that has just saved South Africa from economic collapse is curtailing its own future by failing to replace the resources that it is depleting.