JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa's New Growth Path document released on Tuesday targets 140 000 additional direct mining jobs by 2020, and moots possible sovereign-wealth-fund help for a State mining company that uses the country's resource base for developmental purposes.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, whose long-awaited Economic Development Department (EDD) document has the creation of jobs as its central theme, wants mining to lift direct jobs further to 200 000 by 2030.
Overall, the Cabinet-supported document targets the creation of five million jobs from all sectors, the most – 350 000 by 2020 – from manufacturing.
It lists the main changes that are needed to generate the new additional mining jobs as an acceleration of the exploitation of South Africa's metals and minerals reserves through measures to encourage beneficiation.
It also wants the beneficiation strategy to be refocused on fabrication – which it refers to as stage-four beneficiation and which it defines as the fabrication of metals into final goods – rather than on smelting and refining, which it sees as being excessively capital and energy intensive.
The document cites enhanced platinum and coal exports, and final base-metal-product-derived manufacturing, as the potential accelerators of the additional direct mining jobs.
To stimulate private mining investment, it wants an effective review of South Africa's mineral rights regime – which is currently under way – as well as a lowering of logistics costs and skills costs.
The EDD document envisages that the developmental State mining company will co-exist with what it sees as an already "strong" private mining sector. The State mining company will also be a significant promoter of stage-four beneficiation.
Where the EDD would like to see tough action is when current business practice impinges on its New Growth Path strategies.
It advocates that, "where appropriate", export taxes be imposed on mineral products that are needed to implement "clear industrial strategies".
It also wants stronger steps to be taken against uncompetitive pricing of strategic intermediate inputs.
The "core" actions that need to be taken, it says, is a review of mining's regulatory framework, including measures around licensing, to ensure that private mining companies as well as the State mining company support employment creation, beneficiation, investment and broad equity.
The document wants the way cleared for the development of a ten-year strategic plan for electricity, logistics and mining skills, in order to facilitate stage-four beneficiation.
"The New Growth Path must provide bold, imaginative and effective strategies to create the millions of new jobs that South Africa needs. The economy has not created sufficient employment opportunities for many of our people over the past three decades. Creating more and better jobs must lie at the heart of any strategy to fight poverty, reduce inequalities and address rural underdevelopment," the EDD document states.
Global economic turmoil, it adds, has also opened up new policy space for developing economies to go beyond conventional policy prescriptions.
If five million new jobs can be created by 2020, more than half of all working-age South Africans will have paid employment, and unemployment will drop to 15%, from the official level of 25% currently.