Mashatile says more still needs to be done to transform mining industry.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Deputy President Paul Mashatile says transformation in the mining sector is important, as it forms a vital part of our country's development trajectory, driving infrastructure development, which includes the construction of roads, railways, and power plants, and positively impacting the economy.
Mashatile delivered a keynote address at the South African Youth Economic Council (SAYEC) Business Dialogue during the Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
"Our country's rich natural resources provide a comparative advantage in processing, manufacturing, and beneficiation through mining value chains," he told attendees.
The Deputy President said while the economic growth of the sector is important, its transformation is equally important, to the extent that it is inclusive of women, youth, and other marginalised groups in society.
"The subject of diversity and inclusion in the mining sector should be at the top of our agenda. We must ask ourselves, 'How can we ensure equitable sharing of social and economic benefits in the mining sector?'
He took the time to call on young people to explore opportunities that will make them a key part of this sector, integrating it with manufacturing and technology.
"As a youth, you should identify your role in the value chain and position yourselves in a way that empowers you and benefits the mining sector globally."
Mashatile is of the view that the economic viability of the mining sector relies on developing strategies for expanding the industry through mineral beneficiation and improving the economic and social contribution of the sector.
"This presents an opportunity for youth inclusion in the value chains associated with the mining sector."
He cited President Cyril Ramaphosa who opened the indaba and told guests that mining has a key role to play in building the economy of tomorrow.
"You are the future of this country, and you need to take advantage of the valuable resources and huge business opportunities in the mining industry," Ramaphosa said at the opening of the indaba on Monday.
Referring to the latest survey undertaken by the Minerals Council of South Africa, he said it found that 32 member companies reviewed, largely complied with the five key transformation elements of the 2010 Mining Charter.
These elements included ownership, employment equity, procurement, human resources development, and mine community development.
"It is worth noting that the surveyed companies achieved a weighted average of 39.2% ownership equity by historically disadvantaged South Africans, which exceeds the Charter's 26% target."
In addition, he emphasised the significance of skills development for the youth that are not in employment, education and training between the ages of 15 and 24 in efforts to address unemployment.
The Deputy President challenged the mining industry to provide skills-development opportunities that will lead to much-needed employment opportunities.
"It is time for us, as government and private sector, to invest more than ordinary resources in the development of our youth. We must allow them to voice their concerns, and their proposed solutions must be valued and integrated into the broader strategy for economic growth."
He noted government’s commitment to including the youth in its sustainable development strategy.
"Our mining policies are more than paperwork; rather, they are strategic frameworks that direct us towards mining operations that are responsible, sustainable, and socially inclusive."
For almost 150 years, mining has been a crucial part of South Africa's economy, contributing around 7.5% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for about 60% of the country's exports by value.