Shabangu: Mining industry is not a money-making scheme

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. (AFP)

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu. (AFP)

Speaking at a the New Age business briefing on Monday in Fourways, Johannesburg, the Mineral Resources Minister, Shabangu said some black entrepreneurs needed to change the way they viewed the industry.

"It's our black brothers ... who come into this sector and see it as a quick, money-making scheme," she said.

She said some people began as miners but worked their way up until they made millions of rand.

"Today they have decided to sell their assets and pull out, and today they are out there doing terrible things which are an embarrassment to us black people in this country."

There were many people, however, who were in the industry to grow transformation.

"We are looking for real entrepreneurs," Shabangu said. "If they are here and think the mining industry will make [them able to] wear expensive shoes, wear expensive suits and move around socialising as socialites, it is not helping this industry."

Rather, the industry required long-term work and investment to achieve far-reaching benefits.

'Transformation is not an event'
"Transformation is not an event, it's a process," she said.

Shabangu said the greatest problem facing mining is the lack of skilled and educated workers.

"When you close down [a mine], you must not retrench, you must not [leave] people unemployed. You prepare people to move on to other industries in the sector," she said.

Shabangu said she hoped to have amendments to the sector's regulatory framework finalised by the end of the year, and encouraged the mining community and the public to participate in the public hearings.

While Shabangu said she was positive about the future of mining in South Africa, she said that violence accompanying strikes was unacceptable.

"We have a history in this country which we have to deal with ... it's violence. It comes in many formats, it's not only in strikes ... it's a reflection of society.

"There is such a lot of violence in our country, if we continue in this way, definitely this country is going the wrong way," she said.

Lucrative investment
Concerns over labour in the sector reached a new level when 44 people were killed during an unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine in August last year.

Thirty-four strikers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesters gathered on a hill near the mine on August 16.

Last week the Mail & Guardian reported that Shabangu took a reconciliatory approach at the 2013 African Mining Indaba, taking special effort to reassure investors that Africa, and South Africa in particular, is a lucrative investment.

Shabangu said she was aware that investors worldwide were looking with interest to government for indications about their positions on nationalisation and whether government would assist in creating an environment that allowed for mining industry, following the very public spat between the minister and Anglo American Platinum over its decision to close four shafts and retrench about 14 000 staff members there. – Sapa

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