Minerals Council urges GNU to take mining seriously

Mzila Mthenjane, CEO, Minerals Council SA

MINERALS Council CEO Mzila Mthenjane believes it is “absolutely critical” that the newly-formed Government of National Unity (GNU) will view business as partner in its plans.

But he ducked a question on whether the previous ANC government had accepted business as a true partner and whether it thought it would gain better acceptance from the GNU.

Speaking at a media conference following the council’s annual general meeting held today in Sandton, Mthenjane commented: “The Minerals Council is really anticipating engaging with the new government. We have demonstrated our commitment as business to make South Africa a better country.

“I see the mining industry as a catalyst firstly and, in that, as a partner as far as economic development and social progress is concerned”.

Mthenjane pointed to successes so far through collaboration between business and government. “We are confident we are making progress in the direction that we want to go. We have seen the positive impact of our collective efforts between business and government from an electricity perspective which has been real transformation in terms of the performance of Eskom. I do believe we can achieve the same with Transnet.”

In his earlier speech at the AGM, Mthenjane highlighted the role being played by the mining industry in promoting alternative energy in South Africa. “The mining industry leads investment in renewable energy projects with a pipeline of about 90 projects of almost 15.8GW worth R275bn accounting for 70% of the pipeline”.

He also pointed to the role being played in water provision which outgoing Minerals Council president Nolitha Fakude had identified as the “next crisis point” for the country in her presentation. “It is essential that the government and its partners, the private sector, urgently resolve the growing water constraints before we are in a full blown crisis that could result in social instability,” said Fakude.

ANC a true partner?

Mthenjane was elusive on whether the Minerals Council believed the previous ANC government had accepted business as a true partner and whether it thought it would gain better acceptance from the GNU.

“We are in new terrain in terms of the structure of government but we did spend time engaging with several of the parties ahead of the election.

“That was a great opportunity to understand their stance on business in general and specifically on mining. It was also an opportunity for us to share with them our expectations in as far as the question of –  where to from here with the new government?

“That is about recognising the impact that mining can have. As much as tourism and agriculture are concerned mining can play an equally impactful role and  result in further downstream economic development.”

“We are putting in a lot effort to demonstrate the positive impact that the mining industry is currently having. We have to communicate the good that the mining industry can deliver. That way we can gain acceptance by the GNU and society in general.”

At the AGM, Exxaro Resources CEO Nombasa Tsengwa was elected president of the Minerals Council while Kumba Iron Ore CEO Mpumi Zikalala and Richard Stewart – chief regional officer of Sibanye-Stillwater – were elected as new vice-presidents.

Northam Platinum CEO Paul Dunne and Anglo American Africa and Australia regional director Themba Mkhwanazi were re-elected as vice-presidents.