MACIG Connect Series
GBR speaks with South African Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane at Africa Down Under about South Africa’s new mining charter and his relations with the Chamber of Mines.
In your presentation to delegates at African Down Under in Perth, you said investors have embraced the new mining charter. Can you elaborate on this?
We have met with both Russian and Chilean investors here in Perth. You probably heard in the morning when the presenter straight after me said we’ll come to South Africa, we’ll engage you, we want to work with you. Back home we have already signed about five section 11s and two of them (companies) have voluntarily said they want to comply with the charter. As we engage with them (mining companies) they are actually saying, five of them to be exact, that we are not lawmakers, you are lawmakers, we want to do business and we are happy there is certainty. So, we are moving forward, which is a positive aspect of the charter. We are engaging with the remaining members (of the Chamber of Mines) and with the Chamber of Mines itself. They need to come out and say what they don’t like. If they say they were not consulted and let’s assume that that is true, what is it that if they were consulted they would want to change? We need to deal with the issues and they need to stop running around saying they were not consulted. We have records that prove they were consulted. In fact, they are the most consulted in terms of our records. So, we are there and we are happy and we’re moving forward (sic).
Will you be meeting with Roger Baxter from the Chamber of Mines tomorrow or are you not allowed to have any conversations before the pending court case?
Roger was present when I presented and I will also be present when he presents. I tried to call. He’s busy. I’ll meet him in the evening. He’s one of my stakeholders and I must engage with him (sic).
Your counterparts from elsewhere on the continent are here to present what their countries have to offer investors. Are you (the ministry and the Chamber of Mines) presenting a united front?
That is a problem we still need to resolve as African countries. We are still disjointed a bit, but we are engaging each other. That’s why in my presentation I spoke about Australia supporting the entire African continent, because that’s the way it should be and we will take that forward. We are engaging each other as African ministers. I’ve visited about four already. I’ll be visiting the other two, Niger and Botswana so that we can get to that stage where we present a united front.
I was actually referring to the Chamber of Mines and the ministry presenting a united front?
It will be naïve of me to expect that. You know we differ on the charter. They have their views and we have ours. They will be presenting their views and we respect that until we have resolved (sic) … in fact it will give us a chance because we are here to listen to their presentation and say hey, this we can deal with and this one, you know … try and engage. Because we have an open-door policy, the Chamber of Mines is not our enemy, they are our stakeholder and so we remain committed to listening to them and engaging them.
How would you respond to criticism that South Africa is heading down the same path as Tanzania in terms of the legislation it has introduced?
Well, we must respect Tanzania as a mining country. Ours is very simple. We all agree, including the Chamber, that we need to transform. That’s what the people of South Africa are saying. This charter is not the first charter, this is the third charter. It means we are not coming up with something that is unheard of. That’s why people mustn’t say we’re going down the same route. No, we are still on the same route we found when we occupied this department. We are not coming up with a very new thing. MPRDA was there, we are just completing it. The charter was supposed to be reviewed in 2014. I came here in 2015 and I’ve just reviewed what was supposed to be reviewed. So, we are pretty much stable. It’s just that people must be able to point out those things they think are a problem so that we can deal with them. We see the future of mining in South Africa as very bright. Investors are going to South Africa as I’m telling you. We’re hosting some Russia investors. We will be hosting Chinese investors before the end of the year. So, investors are going to that country irrespective of the new mining charter.
What’s your final message about South Africa to our international readership of mining professionals and investors?
It is a noble cause that we should take our people along as we develop. Because of the historical background in Africa, this generation, both investors and government should be able to take into account the people’s needs and balance those people’s needs with investors needs and that of government and have a win/win solution and that will need courage, honesty from all sides; government, investors and our people. If we leave our people behind we will not have sustainability, prosperity and stability in the sector because people are not happy. So, we are willing to work with all the stakeholders. We will meet with other African brothers and sisters and ensure that we take Africa, including South Africa, forward.