The mining industry says the escalating cost and availability of electricity is causing significant challenges for the sector. Speaking at the second South Africa Investment Conference in Sandton, Andries Rossouw, PriceWaterhouseCoopers energy, utilities and resources leader told investors that the availability of electricity is a limiting factor for future beatification.

He also highlighted other challenges including infrastructure and integrated solutions for transport.  However, government has reassured investors that they are working hard to get mining licenses approved faster.

Rossouw says there  are still huge challenges  in the mining industry, although  a lot of work has been done over the past few months to improve the relationship between mining and government. He says because of this the industry is starting  to attract the much-needed investment.

“Thirdly the regulatory environment, yes we have seen excellent improvement , excellent engagement between mining and government  but there are still gaps. We know of the mining charter but it goes beyond that, the environmental legislations there are concerns around that , the red tape in getting things in place. Fantastic to hear this morning that you can create a new company now in a couple of hours, reality though is get your water use and license going and all that to get mining going is at  the moment a big challenge.”

However, government says they have done a lot of work over the past year and remain committed and hopeful that the sector will attract investors. Gwede Mantashe is the minister of mineral resources.

“I had discussions with mineral Council all the time, if we are negative about ourselves the society will be negative about ourselves. To get a mining license you talk to four department’s now, we can approve it, but environment must approve it, water and now agriculture has joined it, they say chemicals are destroying food production. We should be able to have a stimulus process that involves all of us and approve licenses quicker and I think we are working on this.”

The minister says they are also in in talks to resolve the confusion between coal and renewable. He says the country still needs coal mines and they are here to stay.

“If you say we must close all the coal generated power stations, we can do that immediately and bring fresh air and darkness, that’s it simple, we must be systematic, mining is here to stay it contributes the biggest chunk of foreign earnings for the country and we must protect it cause it must continue to those foreign Direct investment and those foreign earnings.”