President Cyril Ramaphosa says mining in South Africa should be a driving force in creating jobs for young people and developing the country’s economy. Ramaphosa has delivered his opening remarks at the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba.

The Indaba, which is held virtually this year, is hosted under the theme Resilience & Regrowth. The Indaba will be addressed by three African heads of state and will be watched by the government, mining companies and hundreds of investors and financiers across the globe.

The President’s address has set out South Africa’s progress in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted opportunities for international investment.

He has emphasised the critical role of the mining industry in rebooting the economy.

African mining companies have had a strong showing on the JSE in 2020. And mining production has had an impressive recovery following the coronavirus Alert Level 4. The mining industry was among the biggest contributors to growth in the third quarter of 2020. There should be a greater inclusion of women. The industry must step up efforts to provide employment, businesses and training opportunities to people in the communities in which mining companies operate.”

Mining industry’s contribution to the economy

Mining accounts for 8% of the country’s GDP and employs close to 500 000 people. It contributed R34.7 billion in value-added taxes last year. The sector was also one of the biggest contributors to the quarter-on-quarter GDP growth last year.

It recorded 288% growth in the third quarter of 2020.

The government says it remains committed to transforming the mining sector. Ramaphosa says the industry should be a driving force in creating jobs for women and young people. He also promised to resolve policy and regulation uncertainties facing the sector.

Ramaphosa says his government remains committed to decreasing the high electricity costs for the sector.

“We have witnessed the adverse impact of high costs and unreliable energy supply on the mining sector in South Africa. That is why we are intensely engaged in the implementation of our Integrated Resource Plan. We call on stakeholders in both government and in the private sector to work with us in providing energy that increases production in all sectors of the economy.”

Safety of workers 

He says the industry must confront and take decisive action to help reduce fatalities, injuries and occupational diseases.

“We must continue to ensure that the health and safety of mineworkers remains a priority but this must also apply to mineworkers’ families.”

Mining industries contribution in fighting the coronavirus 

The President has noted the industry’s contribution in fighting the coronavirus. “Throughout this pandemic, the mining and energy sectors have done well in protecting the health and the lives of their workers through the development of a clear set of guidelines and directives and building partnerships with all role players.”

He has urged the industry to continue working with the government as it starts to roll-out the coronavirus vaccine.

“As we embark on a COVID-19 vaccination programme that is unprecedented in its scale and reach, we must work together to ensure that workers who need the vaccine receive it.”

The Mining Indaba Advisory board’s Mpho Makwana has urged African mining companies to embrace a new mindset for mining under the current COVID-19 crisis

“Our theme for this year for the Mining Indaba virtual conference deeply embodies the call for resilience and regrowth. Let us even be more fiercely vigilant in our quest for safety and zero harm, health and safety, a fundamental shared value for the mining industry. We want to believe that this M! 21 virtual platform will provide an opportunity to provide best practices on COVID-19 testing, increase hygiene measures and most importantly play our part as a sector in the inclusive roll-out of vaccination programs.”