CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Stakeholders in the mining industry have called for stable regulation and agreed that there needs to be more collaboration and communication between mining houses, communities and mineworkers.
Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani told the Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, that mining companies need to connect more with the communities in which they work.
“The mining industry drives 45% of the world economy. We disturb around a half a percent of the world’s land. But we need to realise that half a percent of the world's population is impacted. This is a huge challenge for our industry.
“We have to be partners with local communities. We have a great responsibility to continue to improve and enhance the lives of people around our assets.”
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said workers and communities should be given the freedom to express their views, to prevent situations getting out of control.
“We should not allow that instead of engagement, anarchy becomes the issue.”
He said mining companies needed to engage more with people in the communities in which they work, saying: “This industry is not about rocks. It is about people.”
Speaking during the opening panel debate, Gold Fields chairperson Cheryl Carolus called on mining houses and partners to conduct business in a manner that was "more constructive, more inclusive and more beneficial" for stakeholders and communities.
“We can’t do that if we have an adversarial relationship with our people.”
“As an extractive industry, mining gets a bad rap every now and then and sometimes deservedly so. We know that the resource sector is capable of doing better, but we can’t do that without very good stakeholder collaboration.”
Health and safety in mining was also a feature in the discussion.
Investec Asset Management portfolio manager George Cheveley said it was "no longer acceptable to produce resources at unacceptable risks" to people’s lives.
“Mining doesn’t have to be a risky business .You have to manage the risks. The recent mining tragedy in Brazil is unacceptable and should not be happening in this day and age. We have to stop this happening and have zero tolerance.”
Carolus, said it was a reality that many of South Africa’s mines "are very deep and old, so we need to take extra care".
Cheveley called for more stability in the regulatory environment.
“We need to know what the rules are for long term investments. If the rules keep changing, it is very difficult to move forward.
“We are seeing more consultation and discussion with the Mining Charter, but we want to see more of that, so that we have a stable environment to invest in. We are not against regulation, but we want stable regulation, and we want to know that the legislation is going to stay.”
Cutifani credited the Minister for leadership he had shown on the Mining Charter. He said exploration was "absolutely critical" while improving infrastructure was vital.
“We need to make sure our infrastructure is world-class and cost competitive. We need to grow the existing asset base.” He said this would help investors to be more confident about investing in mines across the spectrum.
Carolus and Mantashe also spoke out about the benefit of women in the industry and the importance of diversity.
“Diversity is always best for business. Globally it has been proven that not only women, but people of different races, faiths, cultural backgrounds bring much more sophistication to a business,” said Carolus. She said women tended to emphasise the importance of safety in mining, while Mantashe said women were solutions-driven.