The mining industry must step up efforts to provide employment, business and training opportunities to people in communities in which mining companies operate, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“It is important that our commitment to transformation extends beyond compliance, but is understood as creating shared value and prosperity for the people of South Africa.”
Addressing the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba, held virtually on Tuesday, the President said the mining sector should strive for greater sustainability, competitiveness and transformation.
“Mining companies should foster an inclusive approach to all aspects of mining, from ownership to participation in management and also to procurement. There should be greater inclusion of women and women-owned businesses in all these areas,“ President Ramaphosa said.
He said mining companies should strive to incorporate and actively implement environmental, social and governance standards into all aspects of business decisions and operations.
“The social and labour plans are critical to ensuring that mining communities benefit from mining activities in their areas, so that no-one is left behind.”
South Africa wants to promote greater exploration and beneficiation in minerals and upstream petroleum activities, especially in developing the domestic and regional gas market.
“To grow existing mining activity we are working with industry to formalise small scale and artisanal mining, revitalise sterile mines and discover new minerals, especially those that are critical for the economy of the future,” the President said.
Health and safety
The President emphasised the importance of a safe working environment for workers in the industry.
“We must continue to ensure that the health and safety of mineworkers remains a priority, but this must also apply to mineworkers’ families.
The mining sector, like every other sector in the economy, must continue to ensure that workplace observation of public health protocols like handwashing, wearing masks and social distancing becomes the norm.”
He said all workers should have access to personal protective equipment.
“As we embark on a COVID vaccination programme that is unprecedented in its scale and reach, we must work together to ensure that workers who need the vaccine receive it. I am immensely encouraged by the positive sentiment from the mining industry, as expressed by the Minerals Council, towards the vaccine rollout,” the President said.
He said mining companies are well-placed to support the vaccine programme given their experience with managing Tuberculosis and HIV among their employees.
“Mining leaders must confront and take decisive action to help the industry reduce fatalities, injuries and occupational diseases, “ President Ramaphosa said.