JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A collective national vision, which must be viable, inclusive and transformative, is urgently needed to unleash mining’s latent ability to energise the entire South African economy, Chamber of Mines president Mxolisi Mgojo said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a media lunch, Mgojo emphasised the folly of glib reference to mining being a national asset without collectively spelling out the vision for that national asset, and how it can be utilised for the benefit of all South Africans.
“A collective vision is critical. Without it we’re not going to get far,” Mgojo told the media present, including Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.
The CEO of mining company Exxaro Resources said arrival at an effective vision demanded that the collective conversation be even broader than the broadness of the first and second iterations of the Mining Charter, which involved public sector, private sector and labour union participation.
In South Africa's current economic circumstances, the collective body involved must be "the voice of the true needs of the country" and must be mandated to arrive at a dynamic and shared vision “and not something we can’t even make sense of”, he said in an obvious reference to the controversial Mining Charter Three, an ultra-narrow document devised largely unilaterally by the Department of Mineral Resources and condemned as being unworkable in any mining jurisdiction anywhere in the world.
Until South Africa had a viable collective vision, mining's potential contribution to the national economy would be stunted.
“You can’t say that this is a national asset and you don’t have a vision as to how it can be used to grow the economy,” said Mgojo.
The new Chamber of Mines president was also unflinching about the mining industry’s repulsive history of helping to institutionalise some of the laws of apartheid.
He vociferously advocated an open shedding of mining's "ugly" past through a programme of collective action to ensure that mining is repositioned in a manner that benefits the entire country going into the future.
Part of that repositioning needed to include working with all relevant Ministries as well as National Treasury.
He said permission should be sought to end the fragmented manner in which mandatory social and labour plan funding is currently spent, and proposed the effective pooling of this funding as well as royalty finances so that top priorities could be driven in mining areas – “those things that when you do them, the community says, wow, there’s serious delivery here”.
He expressed the firm belief that proper collective action had the potential to create new viable economies in mining areas that would long outlive mine closure, but emphasised that what had to come first was a bold, long-term collective vision, to allow all the public sector, private sector, union and civil society components to be steadfast in the implementation of their specific roles.