JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A platinum Mandela coin should be minted and marketed and platinum-catalysed fuel cells used to power off-grid areas, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.
In his opening speech to the well-attended Joburg Indaba, Mantashe, who is seven months into the job, said he had inherited a mining industry that was not on speaking terms.
“We have now re-established relations and we’re talking to one another. We fought, we hugged, we embraced,” he told the 500 attendees.
Mantashe, who was last year inducted into the Joburg Indaba’s Hall of Fame, said, in reference to his gazetting of Mining Charter 3, that mining should not a be a sector of charters, but a sector able to contribute significantly to the gross domestic product of the South African economy.
“If mining contributes a bigger chunk, we will go beyond 3% growth,” he predicted about what he described as a sunrise industry.
The Minister lamented the downfall of gold mining, which he said must be made to grow again.
He pointed out that the new charter made provision for mineworkers, because of their crucial role in converting mining investment into wealth, and communities.
“Workers put their life on the line and they must have a stake and we settled that,” Mantashe said at the event being covered by Mining Weekly Online.
Regarding communities, he said the industry should accept that it was in their interests to work with communities.
“We are going to coexist peacefully and have the mining industry booming,” he predicted.
He urged the industry to generate wealth and to make profits and cautioned stakeholders that disrupting mining meant disrupting benefits and economic growth.
He held up Johannesburg as an example of a great product of mining and pointed to the fastest subsequent economic growth points as being the mining towns of Rustenburg and Burgersfort.
On the recent disruption of meetings on the development of the Xolobeni mineral sands project, in the Eastern Cape, he urged the people of the area to be cognisant of the need to make the area a better place, using every possible element of economic development, including mining and he urged the mining industry to be sufficiently humble to know that it must coexist with others.
He expressed concern about the wide swings in mining volatility and called for the industry to be more predictable from a production point of view.
The industry needed to work on the growth potential of all commodities and ensure that all classes of mines were afforded the same respect.
Contribution, not size, should be the determining factor and attention should be given to the potential contribution from commodities with a lower profile.
He was very strong on the need to create greater development for platinum: "We must develop demand for platinum. We must develop the Mandela coin and every person in mining must buy that coin,” he said to great applause.
“We must market the fuel cell and we must use it to take energy across the country,” he urged to more applause.
“It’s a responsibility for us as a country to create demand for platinum. Let’s look into growth potential and investment potential and give young people opportunities,” Mantashe said.
He also urged the industry to talk about itself in a manner that no longer destroyed the industry’s own value.
“If we can change our narrative as the industry, our rating as an industry will change internationally. We must be attractive to investment,” he reiterated, pointing to South African mining succeeding in presenting a constructive picture at last month’s Africa Down Under conference, in Perth.
“Let’s build this industry,” he urged.
On the creation of a sovereign growth fund, he said: “You can’t milk a cow when it’s on its knees but when I ask you to create a sovereign growth fund for what is a sunrise industry, please also listen to me.”
Technology would require minerals and metals and the country should position itself for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
He urged mining to modernise its management systems and said a modern mining industry is a better mining industry.
Joburg Indaba chairperson Bernard Swanepoel, hosting the event’s sixth year with a 'new dawn’ theme, pointed to the negative impact on economic growth of high electricity prices and calculated that electricity tariffs would likely still be at acceptable levels if the Eskom crisis had not taken place.
Swanepoel said the unhealthy state of flux of the State-owned enterprises was holding back economic growth.
He urged business and labour to begin talking about 25 years into the future rather than allowing their exchanges to be dominated by short-term issues.
Swanepoel warned of the lack of mineral exploration and urged that more encouragement be given to exploration of this country’s mineral endowment.
Sixty-five speakers will be addressing more than 500 attendees at the Joburg Indaba, where mining luminary Dr Con Fauconnier is this year’s sole Hall of Fame inductee.