CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – South Africa should once and for resolve the uncertainty created by the nationalisation debate, which has deterred investment, Anglo American South Africa executive director Godfrey Gomwe said on Tuesday.
“We have made clear many times our strong view that nationalisation does not work and that the continuation of the debate on the topic has been damaging to South Africa’s reputation as an investment destination,” he said at the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba.
Anglo American was looking forward to the policy debate reaching a conclusion that nationalisation would be the wrong path for South Africa to follow. “That conclusion will enable us all to concentrate on the real priority of working in partnership to tackle unemployment, poverty and inequality,” Gomwe said.
He added that Anglo American also needed certainty on the taxation and royalty regime. “It is critical the taxation and royalty regimes enable mining companies to gain a fair return on their investment and are not subject to arbitrary and unpredictable change.”
Gomwe’s comments follow media reports indicating that the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) study on nationalising mines, which is yet to be released, would reject nationalisation and come out in favour of higher taxes and royalties.
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said in her speech at the indaba that the ANC task team had reaffirmed the government’s view that nationalisation was not a viable policy for South Africa.
In addition to nationalisation, the question of land expropriation was also an uncertainty for the company and this too needed to be resolved, Gomwe said.
“A clear and fair regulatory framework upheld by a strong and independent judiciary is vital. Mining companies need to know that their property rights will be respected and protected. We make major investments and we need to be able to plan with confidence for the long-term future.”
Gomwe complimented South Africa’s judicial system for showing independence and said Anglo American was encouraged that the government’s national development plan has recognised the mining industry’s significant role in the economy.
In terms of Anglo American’s current activities, he emphasised the company’s efforts in developing resources and technology for green energy and contributing to a “sustainable future”.
With coal being widely abundant, Gomwe said Anglo American believed it would still be the cornerstone of the global energy mix for a number of decades and as a result clean coal technology was key to Anglo American’s current investment strategy.
He added that the role of mining innovation in enabling the green economy was broad, with metals also being essential to creating a low-carbon economy.
“A further opportunity about which we are particularly excited is the prospect of creating a vibrant fuel cell industry right here in South Africa. Hydrogen fuel cells using platinum catalysts are efficient, they are versatile and scalable. They represent a proven technology that can provide clean, reliable and cost-effective power,” enthused Gomwe.
He said that Anglo American believes that a fuel cell industry in South Africa would help create jobs, assist in meeting the country’s energy security needs while at the same time creating an opportunity to export knowledge and products to global markets.