CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – A total of 13.5-million people were dependent on mining-generated jobs in South Africa – some 25% of the population – and the money the mining industry spent overwhelmingly benefited the country, outgoing Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll said on Tuesday.
Carroll told the Investing in African Mining Indaba that since 1999, Anglo American alone had invested R180-billion in South Africa and that the much-criticised Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), once restructured, would be investing another R100-billion on its own.
“Business is a partner, not a pariah,” Carroll said while heaping acknowledgement on Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu with the same adulation as Shabangu had earlier heaped upon her.
Being at the heart of the South African economy, mining had a critical role to play, Carroll said, in supporting the objectives of South Africa’s National Development Plan in relation to jobs, education, health, infrastructure and the environment.
She committed Anglo American to a litany of initiatives, including the use of local procurement to support South African businesses, pointing out that a 1% increase in local procurement would be equivalent in amount to a doubling in community social investment.
Globally, the mining sector had been under severe economic pressure, and South Africa had suffered industrial strife and human tragedy.
“We’re at a pivotal moment,” Carroll said, adding that mining had a vital role to play in helping South Africa to tackle the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in that it directly contributed 9.2% of South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and helped to generate a total of 18.7% of GDP.
Mining directly employed more than 500 000 people and was indirectly responsible for a further 840 000 jobs, which, through the dependency ratio sustained 13.5-million people or a quarter of the total population of the country.
In 2011, out of a total South African mining industry expenditure of R437-billion, no less than 89% was spent in South Africa itself and an estimated $2.5-trillion worth of mineral resources remained for exploitation.
At the same time, in the modern world, no country was an economic island and like any other nation, South Africa would only succeed if it fostered an environment that was conducive to business and attractive to international investors.
Creating that environment started with the need for stable labour relations and the maintenance of law and order along with regulatory stability.
The boards of Anglo American and Amplats were totally committed to ensuring a sustainable platinum business for the future and implementing what she believed to be the most comprehensive and imaginative social plan that would create at least as many jobs as the 14 000 that may be affected by Amplats' restructuring.
“We’re totally serious in our intent to create jobs. What’s more, we know how to do it,” said Carroll in reference to Anglo American’s active enterprise-development initiative known as Zimele.
“We will provide high quality training,” she promised.
Through initiatives focused on housing, infrastructure and the creation of small businesses, Amplats would bring benefit both to Rustenburg and to the labour sending areas.
Carroll will soon be handing the baton to Anglo American CEO designate, Mark Cutifani, currently still CEO of AngloGold Ashanti.