Recent economic growth driven by 8.2% and 6.6% growth in the mining sector during last year’s second and third quarters respectively, has helped allay fears of a prolonged recession, said minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane.
Speaking at the launch of the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday, Zwane said: “After a period of stabilisation and consolidation in 2016, the mining industry in 2017 continued to strengthen in its recovery”.
Rising commodity prices supported increased market capitalisation and upward trends in key activities such as exploration, financing as well as mergers, he told the audience.
Zwane was adamant the industry was set on luring investors, but Business Day reported on Monday that some delegates attending the indaba refused to be addressed by Zwane and said they would rather have Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as the opening speaker, saying that if Zwane addressed the indada this would send the wrong message to investors.
Zwane has come under the spotlight for his role with the controversial Gupta family including recent disclosures that he oversaw the misappropriation of R220-million in a Gupta dairy project in the Free State.
In October last year Zwane was criticised by the industry for his handling of proposed changes to the mining charter. The industry has since been calling for policy clarity since.
“The industry did not breach the 500 000 mark in employment, but registered a modest net growth”, said Zwane, outlining plans to ensure future investment plans continue to flow.
“We have over R220-billion rand worth of investments in the project pipeline, which includes PGMs, industrial minerals, energy and non-ferrous metal. South Africa remains a critical investment destination”, he said.
“Since our arrival in Cape Town a few days ago we have met some of the global mining firms operating in our country‚ including Rio Tinto on its plans to expand its operations and extend its life of mine‚ with a potential investment to the tune of $450-million”, said Zwane.
“Rio Tinto has demonstrated its willingness to align with government policies by exceeding the targets we have set for empowerment and transformation, said Zwane. We also received an update on the Venetia Underground Project from De Beers‚ an investment estimated at $2-billion‚ which is extending the life of mining to beyond 2040”, he added.
Zwane said that he will hold bilateral discussions with the investment community “to see what progress we have made together in this industry”.