Jul 13, 2012
Gold|Johannesburg|London|Mangaung|Melbourne|Africa|AngloGold Ashanti|Mining|Resources|Safety|Africa|South Africa|Positive Spin-off|Mark Cutifani
© Reuse this
There is less consensus, however, on whether mining has been a true engine of social development. There is even less agreement on whether it has helped or hindered the process of social cohesion. Many would argue, for instance, that the mining sector never truly valued the lives of black South Africans, as evidenced by its dismal safety record. Others would also highlight the fact that the wealth generated from the country’s natural endowments has never been adequately shared.
Divergent opinions on the role of mining in the South African economy have come to the fore primarily as a response to efforts aimed at dealing with what was quite a forceful call for mine nationalisation – a policy proposal at the centre of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League’s demand for ‘economic freedom in our lifetime’.
To some extent, the abrasive tone adopted by the youth body has already exacted a toll on the industry, where production growth and investment rates were already lacklustre when compared with other resource-rich economies.
The evidence is mostly anecdotal, but it appears that the national-isation rhetoric has cast a pall over boardrooms, and not only in the mining sector.
It did not help that the domestic industry was unable to provide an immediate counterweight, owing partly to the fact that its current leadership lacks the gravitas of previous generations – a reality that probably has a lot to do with the fact that the centre of the South African mining leadership universe is no longer Johannesburg, but rather London and Melbourne.
One positive spin-off from the nationalisation rhetoric, though, is that it has served to highlight the importance of mining and shine a spotlight on its potential as an agent for growth, development and job creation. In other words, it has also created an opportunity for a vital conversation about the role of mining in the economy and in supporting the aspirations of a national democratic society.
Somewhat ironically, it was a non-South African, AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani, who was able to grasp the fact that it was as much an opportunity as a threat. Doubly ironic – given that gold is unlikely to attract the much-feared ‘strategic’ mineral label (a title that has price-control connotations), owing to a view within the ANC that the gold sector is in secular decline.
The level of the potential conversation has also been raised by the ANC-commissioned ‘State Intervention in the Minerals Sector’ document, which not only interrogates mining regimes in a number of countries but also teases out some of the key contri- butions that mining could make to dealing with the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
It is now up to the mining industry to engage, so that those truly concerned with effective, rather than merely rhetorical, policy will be able to sharpen their arguments ahead of the big gathering in Mangaung this December.
Edited by: Terence Creamer© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Editorial Insight News
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
Forest products group Sappi has confirmed the selection of its 25 MW biomass-to-power project, to be erected at its Ngodwana mill, in Mpumalanga, as a preferred bidder under the South African government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement...
Information and communications technology (ICT) distributor DCC is making Windows- and Android-operating systems tablets available through retailers and education equipment suppliers to provide school children with affordable, high-performance education tools. The...
Another cement manufacturer is set to enter the Ugandan market, raising hopes that prices will come down and spur growth in the construction industry. National Cement, a Kenyan manufacturer, has unveiled plans to invest $195-million in a new manufacturing plant in...
With growth rates exceeding that in the developed world – at an average of between 4% and 5% between 2002 and 2014 – African countries provide investors with ample reason to tap into booming consumer demand says Manufacturing Circle executive director Coenraad...
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) Business Confidence Index (BCI) decreased by 3.7 index points month-on-month to 89.1 in March.