"I'm not sure what's the difference between panic and caution. If they take cautionary measures to avoid the damage and deaths of people that have occurred now, I don't think that can be called panic, it would be called cautionary," Mantashe told SAfm on Thursday morning.
Asked for reaction to investors and the international community "panicking" about the situation, Mantashe said there were two "distinct problems" that needed to be dealt with.
"When there is lawlessness, the state must be capable to deal with that. When there is agitation and incitement, the state must be able to deal with that," said Mantashe.
If the state becomes "flat-footed", "everything can break loose".
"I think that is where I am more worried than the panic you are talking about."
He also expressed concern about threats to bring the mining industry to a standstill. Mantashe said it would be regrettable if bargaining councils no longer functioned properly.
A month ago, 34 people were shot dead by police at Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana, Rustenburg in the North West. Protests — apparently sparked by rivalry between two unions — had left 10 people dead the week before the shooting by police.
Another body was found at the mine this week, where talks to deal with a R12 500 monthly salary demand were yet to yield any results.
The mine has not been able operate for weeks, and protests by mineworkers seem to have spilled over to more mines – Anglo American Platinum in Rustenburg, and Goldfields' KDC West mine in Carletonville.
Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has addressed striking miners, urging them to go on work stoppages every month until their demands were met.
He also addressed disgruntled soldiers on Wednesday, causing the defence minister to accuse him of being counter-revolutionary and trying to incite members of the South Africa National Defence Force against the state.
Mantashe said the ANC national executive committee would meet to discuss "all these matters that are in the public domain".
"It's not an emergency [meeting], it's a normal NEC meeting. It's scheduled," he said. – Sapa