More State intervention needed in mining – Motlanthe
The recent global financial crisis has shown that more state intervention is needed in the mining industry, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.
"Contrary to the view that there must be less state involvement in the economy, the lessons from the recent economic and financial crises... [is] that more state involvement is sought," Motlanthe told the ninth international mining history congress in Johannesburg.
State involvement would secure the socio-economic development of South Africans, he said.
For this reason, the government endorsed the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC), as the "nucleus" of a state-owned mining company.
It was through the AEMFC that the state could consolidate its participation in mining and focus on ensuring the security of supply of minerals of strategic significance.
A state mining company would complement the resuscitation of the mining industry as, despite the industry's potential, private sector exploration investment had steadily declined since 1994, he said.
Motlanthe said it was not sustainable to have a mining industry which used national resources almost exclusively to enrich a small minority.
The government wanted to see industry transformation which included increasing employment in mining and related industries.
At the same time, it wanted increased local procurement, fair prices for local manufacturers and a fair share of mining returns going to the fiscus.
It also wanted more women in mining and more blacks in mining management and the skilled trade. Communities around mines should benefit and have a secure future beyond the life of the mine.
"The challenge is to get there without creating unnecessary uncertainty or costs for mining," Motlanthe said.
The government's goals could not be achieved overnight but had to be phased in.
Motlanthe said legislation introduced since 1994 had resulted in meaningful participation of previously disadvantaged people in the mining industry.
"As such, South Africa's mining industry is amongst the largest contributors by value to the broad-based black economic empowerment."
However, more needed to be done particularly in areas such as skills development, employment equity, community upliftment, improving housing and living conditions, beneficiation and ownership.
Motlanthe said the government was committed to providing transparent, accountable and fair regulatory frameworks.
Although the administration of mining rights was not perfect, he said it had significantly improved in the past two years.
"Above all, we must ensure that in future, mineral rights go where they can best be used to develop our country, not to enrich a few or fuel speculation at the cost of current and future productive capacity and employment."
The government was looking at ways of reducing the cost of electricity as this was a key component in mining, he said.
"Our options however, are sharply constrained by the need to finance new generation capacity and increase the space for renewable energy.
"Still, we will explore all avenues to moderate electricity prices as far as economically viable."
Edited by: Sapa
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