‘While we remain positive on recent reform announcements from government to effect change and include private sector participation ... we need far more urgency in dealing with these constraints’
MZILA Mthenjane assumed the helm of South Africa’s key mining advocacy body in August 2023. As the former head of stakeholder relations at coal miner Exxaro Resources, his appointment signals the council’s improved focus on community relationships. This is a key part of the corporate EESG – economic, environmental, social and governance – agenda. “He is coming in when the focus of all stakeholders in now more on EESG matters, with mining expected to play a significant role in this regard,” Minerals Council president Nolitha Fakude said of Mthenjane’s appointment.
South Africa’s mining sector has long been swept by waves of labour and social unrest which are fanned by poverty, unemployment, and rampant criminality. Mthenjane has assumed his new role at a time when the private sector and the government have embarked on a partnership to address three of the major constraints to economic growth of power, logistics and crime. This combination of risk is felt acutely by the mining sector, and Mthenjane is now the face of the mining industry as it confronts these and other challenges.
Soft-spoken and unassuming in the typically diplomatic mould of stakeholder relations experts, Mthenjane has maintained a fairly low public profile in his first months on the job as he navigates its terrain. He was highly regarded at Exxaro and is filling the big mining boots worn by previous Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter, who was a very vocal champion of the sector. We think Mthenjane will be more selective in his public commentary, an in-house approach that may improve government relationship management. But it can cut both ways. Quiet diplomacy can often result in failing to hold the ruling party to broad public accountability.
LIFE OF MZILA
Mthenjane is an engineer with wide experience in finance and stakeholder relations, making him a mining all-rounder. Following a path trodden by many South African mining executives, Mthenjane’s education was funded by Anglo American, which gave him a bursary in 1992 to study engineering. He started his mining career as a junior mining engineer at the Elandsrand Gold Mine. He went on to Rand Merchant Bank and Gold Fields, followed by a stint as vice president for Global Corporate Finance at Deutsche Securities. He has also had a senior role at Royal Bafokeng Platinum.