CAPE TOWN – Foreign investors are still interested in South Africa’s mining sector, Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant said, adding that a number of projects are shovel-ready in the platinum, zinc and other manganese sectors.
Answering questions from MPs in the National Assembly on Wednesday on how the government was dealing with strikes in the mining sector, Oliphant said his department’s platinum task team had been in talks with trade unions and mines to ensure that jobs were saved in the platinum sector, which has been hit by strikes since last year.
This follows the Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu’s announcement last month in her budget vote speech that her department would develop a rescue plan for the gold and platinum sectors through its Mining Growth, Development, and Employment Task Team (Migdett), which was set up in 2008.
Oliphant said ahead of upcoming wage negotiations, the National Union of Mineworkers had invited the Chamber of Mines to a pre-bargaining session in an attempt to ensure a peaceful wage negotiations period.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, told MPs in the National Assembly that the department was keen to implement collective bargaining in the agriculture sector and added that a number of farm associations had welcomed the idea.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said farmers who applied for exemption and were not granted exemption would have to pay workers the difference in wages between the present dispensation of R105 and what they had been paying them up until now.
Oliphant said so far, 418 applications for exemption had been refused exemption, while 86 exemptions had been granted and 585 applications had been referred back to farmers as they had not submitted supporting documents.
She said those that had been granted exemptions had been able to sign agreements with their workers specifying the wage agreed to and when this wage would be reviewed again by the farmer.
The department, she said, had not as yet calculated the expected job losses arising from the increased farmworkers’ wage, but pointed out that farmers could access the training lay-off scheme through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, said the construction of a bridge over the Mbhashe River in the Eastern Cape, which was completed recently, would cut the commuting time between Duytwa and Mvezo by 30 minutes and reduce the cost of the journey from R57 to R30.
Commenting about the perception that South Africa had some of the highest port charges in the world, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, told Parliament that not all the country’s port rates were high.
Gigaba pointed out that South Africa’s rate at local ports for coal exports fell 17% below that of the global trend.
He said, however, that the country had high charges related to the receiving and sending of containerised goods and added that the Ports Regulator and Transnet is addressing this.
The main challenge was that South African ports, unlike the ports of competitor nations, did not receive injections from the fiscus, said Gigaba, who added that he welcomed suggestions on tackling funding constraints.