As part of an extensive research project, the Inclusive Society Institute (ISI) hosted a second
dialogue with the mining sector on 16 November 2021. These series of dialogues with various sectors will culminate in a comprehensive ‘Blueprint for rejuvenating South Africa’s economy’.
To date, the dialogues had two parts to them:
Gaining an understanding from the particular sectors perspective as to what the country needs to correct policy wise
What new initiatives / policies should be introduced to shift the economy onto a higher growth trajectory.
The second dialogue with the mining sector generated several proposals. These included:
INFRASTRUCTURE. To make the mining industry cost-effective, role-players such as ESKOM and Transnet have to improve.
Public-private partnerships are a solution. Vaccine rollout is a good example of PPPs and what can we learn from it? Is it the crisis that forced the partnership or the lives of South Africans? Shared enemy and the race between the virus and the response.
Need moretrust between government and social partners. Are there “brokers” that can fulfil this role?
Sector has not been vocal about a “do nothing“ scenario in 20 years’ time. Good at short term forecasts (e.g., commodity prices) but not with longer term scenarios (e.g., if we can’t solve the energy and community issues, where will the sector end up in 10 -15 years’ time?).
Economic, Social and Governance (ESG) need to be scaled up. More discussion on ESG required. Cannot operate without recognising the impact of mining houses on broader societies. Could Marikana have been avoided?
Leadership and certainty in government is critical – need different perspectives in advice including communities
Urgency and implementation: Why can’t we move faster? Can we have low hanging fruits to demonstrate success?
PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT AND INNOVATION in the operation of ageing mines, labour productivity and innovation.
CAPITAL FOR NEW DEVELOPMENTS: We can have all the capital in the world, but the July insurrection and violence means that mining industry cannot operate in isolation of the broader SA context.
EMPLOYMENT ABSORPTION: Unemployment concentrated among the youth, but political leadership is much older and not necessarily attuned to these issues.
ATTRACTION OF TALENT TO MINING: Youth do not find mining as attractive compared to the financial or health sectors. You need to attract the brightest minds not only in private sector but labour and government. Indonesia, Australia and other jurisdictions are competing for scarce skills.
RENEWABLES: SA has the factors which can position it as a leader in renewables. Platinum groups metals (PGMs) needed for the transition and with most of that in SA, it needs to be unlocked. Renewables over time could create more sustainable jobs than carbon-based industries. Private and public sector can unite around a just transition and bring in civil society and labour.
SA IS EXPLORATIVE: International roadshows by government to demonstrate commitment, and facilitate exploration.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER AFRICAN COUNTRIES for multilateral trade.
A full report on the deliberations will be released in due course.