SA mining unions, communities and firms closer after Covid-19

Nick Holland, CEO, Gold Fields

GOLD Fields CEO, Nick Holland, said the Covid-19 pandemic had worked as a catalyst to bring together South Africa’s often fractured mining industry, including unions.

Commenting in a statement in which the R177bn gold company threw its support behind a proposal by the Minerals Council and B4SA to breathe growth back into the sector, Holland said his company had had constructive meetings with mines minister, Gwede Mantashe, currently hospitalised after testing positive for Covid-19 disease last week.

“The Minerals Council has had constructive engagements with the minister on helping the sector through the Covid-19 crisis, and looking at how to revive the mining sector post Covid-19,” said Holland. Mining had been “working far more co-operatively with … trade unions, our communities, industry peers and government – than we have done before.”

Gold Fields operates the South Deep mine, west of Johannesburg. The mine – which has mineral reserves of more than 50 million ounces – is still only 10% of Gold Fields’s total annual production, but it occupies a major position in South African gold mining.

Holland called for broad institutional and economic reforms in South Africa as recommended by B4SA. It said in a report that was put before Government that between 20,000 to 30,000 jobs could be lost as a result of Covid-19 this year and it was therefore critical President Cyril Ramaphosa responded with business friendly initiatives.

Addressing corruption, containing energy price increases, improving local government and clarifying regulations were chief areas of concern.

“The government’s economic narrative is generally sound, but we have been here before and not made the requisite progress. If you take a look at the key areas holding back economic growth and investment in South Africa, they require tough choices to institute structural and economic reforms,” said Holland.

This view – that South Africa’s government economic theory stands up – was made by Anglo American CEO, Mark Cutifani recently.

He said in an interview with Miningmx in June: “I keep telling banks and others, in my 13 years that I’ve been going to South Africa, it has been the noisiest jurisdiction I’ve ever worked in, and probably the most consistent jurisdiction in terms of policy.

“My only hope is the ANC aligns and supports its leadership because if it undermines its leadership, then it undermines the country.”

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