SECUNDA (miningweekly.com) – Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe noted that the free-carry stipulation in the latest draft Mining Charter will result in workers deriving immediate value, thereby fostering diligent performance and loyalty towards employers, as workers strive to enhance and improve “their" mine.
“It is the workers who convert every investment into wealth . . . without workers, there would be no dividends, hence the issue of the 5% free-carry for workers.”
Addressing attendees at the official opening of Sasol Mining’s Secunda-based Shondoni Colliery on Thursday, the Minister noted that the free-carry stipulation had far more implications than just monetary ones, noting that the free-carry stipulation effectively amounted to companies investing in their relationship with their employees and affected communities.
Mantashe pointed out that communities would be unlikely to embark on violent protests against mines in which they are actively “invested”, while more workers would be more cognisant of the factors and challenges facing the company, if they were shareholders.
He noted that companies that are of the belief that they need only enrich and answer to shareholders, were employing a “backward way of thinking”, adding that social investment has become a major priority.
Mpumalanga Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Eric Kholwane agreed on the importance of the free-carry interest, stating that it would prevent communities from becoming “restless.”
He stressed that it was evident that the “good policies” in place do not seem to result in meaningful benefits for the people in the Mpumalanga province. He reported that his constituents had expressed a desire to have some sort of ownership, or stake in the mines within their communities. Additionally, he suggested that government look into assisting small-scale miners, instead of “relegating” them to illegal mining, by ensuring that the industry does not preclude artisanal miners.
While lauding Sasol for the role it has played in the province, and the contributions it has made in terms of assisting the province in meeting its socioeconomic goals, he added that he, “hope[d] that the free-carry increases the quantum of their assistance.”
Mantashe further stated that transformation is not a compliance issue, but a business imperative.
On the issue of ‘once empowered, always empowered’, he stated that no one, and especially not the Department of Mineral Resource (DMR) can find fault with a successful black shareholder or black economic empowerment partner taking their investment elsewhere, but that the problem lies in those black shareholders who were pushed out. “In that case, you cannot say they are empowered.”
Mantashe noted that the DMR has been approached by shareholders that were pushed out of empowerment deals.
He stressed that, in drafting the revised charter, the DMR strived to ensure that it remained cognisant of employing measures that would not hinder competitiveness or growth, “because a competitive industry will lead to growth and meaningful transformation.”
Mantashe noted that the country cannot grow its economy by focusing on the macro level, stressing that more emphasis should be placed on micro factors.
He reiterated his distaste for mining companies placing mines with economic deposits on care and maintenance, noting that these companies are contributing negatively to production and employment figures. He suggested that larger companies should enter into operating agreements with smaller companies, with smaller overheads, who may be able to derive better margins when mining said deposits.