Perception crucial to S.Africa’s mining industry - CNBC Africa

Perception crucial to S.Africa’s mining industry


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Mining plant. PHOTO: Getty Images

“The mining industry in South Africa is still one of the cornerstones of the South African economy, [but] there’s a massive perception deficit among the mining industry,” said Anglo American Platinum chairperson Valli Moosa at the Investing in Resources and Mining in Africa conference on Tuesday.

Moosa added that despite the hard knock from labour sector unrest this year, South Africa’s mining industry continues to have a massive contribution to the county’s GDP. The industry is also the largest employer in the country.

The conference, which is underway from 29 to 31 October, aims to explore South Africa’s mining conundrums, setbacks and opportunities to place it back on track to prosperity.

Among the speakers at opening panel discussion was Peter Leon, partner and head of mining and energy projects at Webber Wentzel, who explained that the level of trust in the industry was essential to its thriving.

“The problem in South Africa’s mining at the moment is the trust deficit. It affects so many things,” said Leon.

He added that despite the amendments to South Africa’s Minerals & Petroleum Resources Development Bill which were underway, the licencing requirements stipulated in the bill failed to be clear enough, which sometimes caused a delay in the granting of licences.

Other panel members included Frontier Advisory head of research and strategy Hannah Edinger and South Africa Chamber of Mines vice president Mike Teke.  

Leon added that the country’s industry would have to start considering gaining access to international arbitration as international players grow their involvement in the industry.

Wits University vice chancellor Adam Habib explained that the country harboured a perception deficit, which tended to cloud the addressing of crucial issues such as social and economic inequalities and expectations within the industry.

Habib added that failing to address such issues ran the risk of polarising the country’s society, delegitimising the industry as well as its players in attempting to transform the industry.

“You need to start earning your own legitimacy that you’re committed to becoming a good corporate citizen if you’re looking towards the long term sustainability of the industry,” he said.