Minerals Council pins hopes for turnaround on Eskom

Mzila Mthenjane, CEO, Minerals Council SA

THE Minerals Council of South Africa is looking for a stabilisation in the country’s mining industry ahead of a possible turnaround this but it depends on Eskom and Transnet, two beleaguered state-owned companies.

The biggest challenge lies with Transnet where a process is underway to appoint new CEOs for Transnet and subsidiary Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) after the resignations of former CEOs Portia Derby and Sizakele Mzimela.

The Minerals Council had called for their resignations in December 2022 but the two remained in place until the end of September during which time coal exports through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal continued to collapse to levels last seen in 1992. Iron ore and manganese exports were also negatively affected.

Statistics released by the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) at the end of January indicated the dropping export volumes stabilised in the last quarter of 2024 under the new Transnet acting management.

Asked why it took so long to get those executives out Minerals Council CEO Mzila Mthenjane commented: “I cannot really speak for Transnet but the direct relationship between the mining industry and Transnet has improved markedly since the appointment of the new Board at Transnet following those resignations.”

Speaking during the Minerals Council’s ‘State of the Mining Nation’ presentation at the Mining Indaba being held in Cape Town, Mthenjane said the mining industry would have no direct involvement in the appointment of the new CEOs to run Transnet and TFR.

Asked if the Minerals Council wanted the appointments to come from the private sector Mthenjane said: “Transnet is a public company with a board and management and processes to be followed in terms of the employment of senior executives. The extent of our (private sector) involvement would have been if we were approached to suggest names.”

Said Minerals Council chief economist Hugo Pienaar: “We  think over the next 12- to 18-months we should see an improvement in the frequency and the severity of load-shedding.

“We are looking to some improvement on the electricity front this year. We have already seen improvements on the severity side and we are now looking for the frequency of load-shedding to come down.

“Logistics may take a bit longer. Transnet is on an 18-month turnaround strategy so what we are looking for here is an announcement on the permanent CEOs.

“We also need the appointment of the permanent infrastructure manager to be made because that will be the vehicle through which the concessioning of private sector involvement on the railways is likely to be driven. This will take time and optimistically the infrastructure manager will be up and running by April/May this year.”

“After that the concessioning will start but at least we can say the reforms are starting to happen.”