SOUTH African mines and energy minister Gwede Mantashe told the mining industry it was to blame for its falling stock with international investors because it was failing to promote the country as well as its international peers.
“The Fraser Institute is not rating the department [of Mineral Resources and Energy]; it is rating the sector,” said Mantashe at the Minerals Council annual general meeting on Wednesday. “We (the DMRE) don’t take responsibility and we absorb the pain for that.”
The reference is to a perception-based survey compiled by Canada’s Fraser Institute which asks respondents to rank mining districts in terms of the relevant government policies. South Africa’s mining sector once again languished in the lower reaches of a list ranking overall attractiveness to investment.
Mantashe said South African mining CEOs were lacklustre: “In Canada I discover that CEOs promote the sector but we don’t have that view in South Africa. We are half-hearted about it. It is the sector that makes itself.”
One much needed requirement of the mining sector is a new mining cadastre. The current SAMRAD system developed by the government is not fit for purpose. Its replacement, however, is about two years overdue.
Mantashe said a short list of five technology suppliers had been identified for procuring a new cadastre. When it finally relented to industry pressure to buy an “off the shelf’ cadastre (rather than build its own), the DMRE said the procurement process would be completed by the end of May.
In the meantime, the backlog in mining and prospecting right applications had “ballooned”. This was owing to difficulties in the Mpumalanga region, said Roger Baxter, outgoing CEO of the Minerals Council. The backlog was back at more than 5,000 applications after having been reduced to around 2,700 last year.
Mantashe didn’t detail a known date for the new cadastre.
There had also been no progress in establishing a new, crack specialised police force to tackle the scourge of organised crime in the mining sector. The mines minister said in September last year that the South African Police Services (SAPS) would establish the police unit.
Baxter said the council was “disappointed” there had been no visible progress but that it had “recognised the Government has a process to go through”.
The mining sector continued to have talks with the SAPS while it was investing heavily in bolstering security. Some R20m a month was being spent by the mining sector securing the Northern rail corridor, he said.