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)
Creamer Media Editor
Other Editorial Insight News
Updated 7 hours ago Imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to initiate the greater use of gas in South Africa’s currently coal-dominated electricity generation. Anticipated is the establishment of infrastructure at South African ports, such as Saldanha Bay, Coega or Richards...
Updated 7 hours ago As South Africa battles water restrictions precipitated by the El Niño phenomenon, aged infrastructure, above-average temperatures, below-average rainfall and climate change, industry stakeholders have called for a collaborative water stewardship approach that will...
Recent Research Reports
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
This Week's Magazine
Additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, has the potential to completely change the relationships between individual consumers, professional designers and manufacturers. So argued Loughborough University Reader in Computer Aided Product Design Dr Ian...
Airbus Defence and Space: Military Aircraft has highlighted that its A330 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) has significant commonalities with the Airbus A330-200 commercial airliner, upon which it is based. The South African Air Force (SAAF) once operated a fleet of...
Financial services provider Nedbank launched the second edition of its Carbon Footprinting Guide earlier this month, which is aimed at demystifying carbon footprint approaches and help readers grasp the main concepts of carbon measuring, monitoring, reporting and...
This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of Caterpillar’s first backhoe loader. This also coincides with the worldwide release of its latest-generation F2 series backhoe loader, which was launched at supply chain services company Barloworld Logistics’ Big Dig Day in...
A shortage of software engineers is leading to fewer information technology (IT) projects in private and public sector organisations. This also places a dampener on the economy, as IT is an integral part of business and civil service, says University of Witwatersrand...