Mantashe sets new deadline for SA’s long-delayed cadastre

Gwede Mantashe, South Africa's mineral resources and energy minister.

THE winning bidder to provide South Africa with a long-awaited mining cadastral system will be announced before the end of October – if all goes according to plan, said Gwede Mantashe, Mines Minister.

Delivering the closing speech after a two-day mining conference in Johannesburg, Mantashe said the department of mineral resources and energy has “done its part of the job” by selecting its preferred bidder to develop the cadastre. The ball is now in the court of the State IT Agency (SITA) which must audit the department’s decision before a formal announcement can be made. “We are hoping before end-October,” Mantashe said.

Mining companies have for years been calling for a new modern and transparent online cadastre that will stem corruption with the awarding of licences and bring about much-needed investment in exploration in the industry.

Mantashe appeared to be in a jovial mood and said the lively discussions during the two-day conference reaffirmed the crucial role of mining in the South African economy. “Every time the fiscus in in trouble, mining has saved it. Even during Covid-19, when we took unpopular decisions, mining was able to lead the reconstruction and recovery process.”

He acknowledged the country is going through a difficult period due to rising costs among other things and appealed to the mining sector to “continue saving the country” and “to be reluctant to retrench workers”.

This comes after several mining houses said they’ll have no other choice to lay off workers in the coming months, due to lower commodity prices as well as their inability to export sufficient volumes to international markets because of logistical inefficiencies at Transnet.

He acknowledged the mine managers have had to deal with extra problems due to Eskom and Transnet’s “erratic performance”.

“You are used to deal with the cyclical behaviour of [the prices] of minerals, not with strange challenges thrown at you due to Eskom and Transnet,” he said.

In defence of coal

Mantashe has once again defended the continued use of coal and other fossil fuels in the economy. He said developed countries cannot expect South Africa to “not touch” fossil fuels, while they are allowed to reignite the use of fossil fuels in their own economies.

He also had harsh words for the NGO sector who are quick to launch court action against the government as well as prospective oil and gas exploration from major international players. “We kicked out the companies and they went to Namibia and Côte d’Ivoire and boosted the GDPs in these countries.”

Mantashe said it’s time that NGO’s – who are often foreign-based – declare the sources of their funding, just like political parties are required to do. “They don’t want to allow us to extract oil and gas, but they don’t do anything when their own countries do so. Instead, they block our development.”

With regard to South Africa’s Just Energy Transition Programme, Mantashe said it’s not just a matter of “switching off coal and switching on” renewable energy.

“People have called the just energy transition a ‘journey from old to new’. But be careful. You never unbundle the old before testing the reliability of the new. It’s a misnomer. You first check its resilience. We must test every piece of technology for its efficiency.”