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Shabangu: 'We've dealt with nationalisation'

Sapa

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has warned that the call to nationalise mining companies should be dropped.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabang is confident the mine nationalisation issue would be

The ANC's Mangaung conference in December is expected to deal with the issue of nationalising strategic assets, such as mines.

"The biggest issue when it comes to policy issues is whether Mangaung will nationalise [mines]. We've dealt with that issue, but [investors] continue to raise it," Shabangu was quoted as saying in City Press on Sunday.

"We are confident that when we come out of Mangaung we will be able to put this matter aside and it will bring and instil much more investor confidence."

Shabangu was concerned that protracted strikes in the mining sector had dented investor confidence.

"It has been a cause for concern because it's not a once-off; it is sort of spiralling in the mining industry," she reportedly said.

Shabangu's comments followed an emergency meeting on the economy called by President Jacob Zuma on Friday night involving government, business and labour.

He called on business and labour to work together to find solutions and was concerned by violence associated with strikes.

"We are confident that working together we will be able to find solutions, informed by the Constitution and the values of our democracy. We have a long history of productive social partnerships in our country," said Zuma.

Disinvesting

The Mail & Guardian reported earlier this month that BHP Billiton, which accounts for more than 8% of the JSE, has been reducing its investments in South Africa for the past two decades and recently sold its stake in Richards Bay Minerals.

Simon Brown from JustOneLap, a financial and investment consultancy, said mining giants had been "slowly disinvesting from South Africa for many years. And when you look at BHP Billiton's project pipeline, South Africa doesn't feature at all."

Following the unprotected strikes, AngloGold Ashanti chief executive Mark Cutifani that his company will have no choice but to prematurely downsize its operations in South Africa. He warned that continued strike action would result in disinvestment, saying that, "as for many others, there is a very clear trade-off between investing in the sustainability of our business and employment".  

Cutifani said these types of wage negotiations would "result in job losses … We cannot afford to increase on the 8% to 10% annual wage increase we've committed to."

AngloGold Ashanti has more than 35% of its operations in South Africa. If it disinvests, not only are the wage demands irrelevant, but thousands of jobs could also be lost.

"Cutifani and the other experienced mining chief executives know how to manage high cost and risky assets. But they need input from the government, unions and employees to keep these operations going," said Peter Major from Cadiz Corporate Solutions.

"Most of our deep mines can be kept going for decades longer if they are managed correctly in tandem with the four stakeholders' co-operation: unions, government, employees and management. But complete, absolute buy-in from government and the workers is mandatory."

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