Mining leaders stress need for good leadership

5th October 2017

By: Mia Breytenbach

Creamer Media Deputy Editor: Features


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Good leadership is critical to South Africa, former AngloGold Ashanti CEO Bobby Godsell said on Thursday.

Speaking during a panel discussion on the leadership skills required for the future at the fifth Joburg Indaba conference, he stressed that the “fish rots from the head” and that good leadership remained imperative.

In terms of leading the mining industry, Godsell suggested that mining companies should focus more on profitability and less on investments into companies that destroy value.

He further highlighted integrity as being a key aspect in the mining industry’s operations.

Sasol Mining senior VP Lucky Kgatle stressed that integrity, honesty and accountability started from the top-down.

He further highlighted the need for more participatory leadership, noting that change requires mining companies’ leaders to understand the issues of the people and to ensure they implement a leadership style to involve people in coming up with new ideas.

Vedanta Zinc International CEO Deshnee Naidoo, meanwhile, added that the implementation of leadership values, such as listening, for example, had to be demonstrated.

She further said the case for change at leadership level was driven by growing expectations from stakeholders, including communities, suppliers and investors.

Notably, the social licence to operate is no longer a case of compliance, but is becoming a deeper business imperative, Naidoo said.

Further, she noted that advocacy should become a key business incentive in mining organisations.

“The purpose of business . . . has to be to give back to society and we have to do it in a more transparent way,” Naidoo said.

She added that there was also a need for change to ensure the safety of employees in the mining industry.

“Orebodies that are more difficult to mine and deeper, [as well as] grades that are much more marginal, not only increase the risk for mining but are also increasing the need for being safer when we do mine,” Naidoo stressed.

Notably, as commodity cycles are becoming shorter, mining companies need to operate with uncertainty as the core to their businesses, while simultaneously facing a shrinking industry.

“As the mining sector becomes smaller, we have to compete for skills and expertise from the digital and technological industries. We need to change the way we recruit and attract people,” Naidoo said.

Also driving change are ttechnological innovations, and businesses need to understand these changes, she posited.

Naidoo suggested that all these factors warrant a change in behaviour.

Mining companies have to move away from conventional centralised hierarchical structures to more decentralised behaviour-based structures, she explained.

“This model will give more empowerment to the people on the ground, which is where the action needs to be if we as an industry want to start making decisions with greater agility and flexibility,” Naidoo emphasised.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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