Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has urged stakeholders in the mining industry to work together to resolve labour disputes as speedily as possible.
“Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has appealed to stakeholders in the mining industry to work together in the current wage negotiations to resolve labour disputes as speedily as possible in the best interests of all involved, and South Africa,” said the Department of Mineral Resources.
This as workers downed tools at the country’s coal producers, demanding a R1000 increase for lower level category workers.
The Minister urged all parties to find solutions that will realise the commitments and principles as stipulated in the Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry entered into by organised labour, organised business and government to ensure peace and stability in the sector.
“Government urges all parties to continue to use their best endeavours to resolve the impasse,” the Minister said on Monday.
The state of the nation address was a missed opportunity to begin the process of healing our democracy and restoring trust in its institutions. Instead it will go down in history as the moment in which the state tried to obstruct journalists, and police forcibly removed MPs. However, in the analysis of what transpired that night, a number of other human rights issues have been overlooked.
The address was also a wasted opportunity to open a dialogue on a genuinely inclusive social contract for the mining sector. On the contrary, a bias towards the concerns of elites over those of the poor and marginalised, and the status quo over change, was quite apparent.
Particularly troubling was the continued failure to recognise mine-affected communities as a stakeholder with legitimate interests and a right to take a seat at the bargaining table. The Draft Framework for Sustainable Mining was recently concluded between the government, mining sector and organised labour. Its most widely known flaw is that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the dominant union on the platinum belt, has not signed it.
Equally significant but less well known is the exclusion of organisations representing mine-affected communities. The organisation of communities into formal nationwide networks means engagement with this sector is far easier than previously. Yet their voices are still missing from negotiations.
While President Jacob Zuma said the streamlining of the mining, environmental and water licensing processes was in response to business requests, there were no corresponding examples of responsiveness to the requests of communities. While investors will now have a “one-stop departmental clearance house” to attend to complaints, communities will have no equivalent body to assist them in responding to violations of their environmental and other rights.
The disproportionate attention to the concerns of the industry and investors results in an incomplete picture of the effects of mining. For example, while mining-related environmental degradation threatens the health and livelihood of communities across SA, there was no mention of the environmental costs of mining.
This approach goes against that required by the constitution, which is founded on the values of respect for the dignity of all and the equal enjoyment of rights and freedoms. To realise this vision, the constitution enshrines the right to political participation, just administrative action, access to a basket of socioeconomic goods and to an environment not harmful to health or wellbeing. These values require a human rights-based approach to governance in which the voices of all are valued, and vulnerable citizens get particular attention.
The exclusion of communities also runs contrary to the National Development Plan, which stresses active citizenship.
Mr Zuma sought to clearly communicate that his government was sensitive to the needs of investors. However, by sidelining the needs and priorities of key stakeholders, the government is doing investors no favours because the main requirement of investors is a stable environment in which the return on their investments is secure. If affected groups are excluded from decision-making and do not see their concerns addressed, they will be more likely to seek to disrupt the system. Stability in the system requires a social contract that addresses the needs and concerns of communities, all organised labour, the government, mining companies and investors.
While the debate over jammed signals continues in Parliament, another form of signal jamming is being overlooked: the inattentiveness of the government to concerns expressed by mining community organisations.
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By Craig Hook
Productivity is a hot topic in South Africa with economists frequently advising that productivity has not grown as well as it should have in the last few years. One sector where productivity is always in the spotlight is the Mining industry.
According to the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the nation’s productivity has grown on average between 1970 – 2013 by a mere 1.02% a year. It measured growth in productivity of 1.92% per annum between 2010 and 2013. Despite the recent economic slowdown, productivity in the country has grown by an average of 2.8% a year during the 18 years spanning 1995 – 2013.
For many organisations, the one simple solution to balance costs against profits, is to cut-off the dead wood. This begs the question, is it possible to attain sustainable profit beyond headcount reduction? And if so, how do organisations strike the balance between productivity and maximum profitability?
According to Chamber of Mines chief executive Bheki Sibiya, labour costs were escalating to higher levels while productivity was not improving.” If the salary is growing at 10%, productivity should also grow at 10%.” In an interview with the Sowetan, Sibiya – who is unhappy that President Jacob Zuma has returned the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act to parliament for further consultation – warned that the mining industry was a long-term industry and needed to operate in an environment that did not change too much.
One should ask though, is this a fair statement in the South African environment which is constantly in flux? With challenges such as a striking workforce, and load shedding impacting on the sustainability and long term profitability of the mines, it is not hard to explain why productivity would also be severely impacted.
Sustaining profits is about identifying and managing the economic drivers of costs (reduce) and revenue (increase) during the business cycle to achieve a desired profitability target. Reducing headcount (people resources) can lead to sustainable profit contribution if it is linked to an economic driver. For example, if an economic driver is truck productivity and you can implement an operational improvement to reduce cycle time which means less truck hours to mine the same quantities of ore then headcount can be reduced. If however, headcount reduction is done without changing the operational processes to improve productivity then quantities of ore mined and sold may drop and profits will be impacted.
Likewise, reducing support function headcount without a corresponding process change may increase risks to product quality, reserves replacement, safety, etc. In the medium to long term it is productivity improvement not headcount reduction that sustains profits and allows you to react to upturns in commodity demand.
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More than 900 mining corporates will be attending the 21st annual Investing in African Mining Indaba, where chief executives representing some of Africa’s most attractive mining companies will speak about the sector, where it is at present, its future, and mining and sustainable development.
“For more than 20 years, Africa’s mining companies have played a pivotal role in the success and growth of the Investing in African Mining Indaba; in fact, it is viewed as an investment barometer that generates significant media interest and business news coverage globally,” says Jonathan Moore, the managing director of the indaba.”In bringing Africa’s top mining leaders, we showcase all of Africa’s attractive mining investment opportunities to global investors seeking to invest in new projects and regions on the continent.
“The indaba takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, from 9 to 12 February. There will be more than 50 corporate mining presentations featuring chief executives and board level representatives at the indaba and its complementary conference, the Investment Discovery Forum, which takes place in Cape Town on 8 and 9 February, before the conference gets under way.They will be addressing the status of current and new projects, overall corporate initiatives and other key issues that investors want to hear from the captains of the African mining industry.Chief executives that will be making presentations over the four days include:
- Tom Albanese, Vedanta;
- Graham Briggs, Harmony Gold;
- Mark Bristow, Randgold Resources;
- Alan Davies, Rio Tinto;
- William Dawes, Mkango Resources;
- Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe Mines;
- Brad Gordon, Acacia Mining;
- Chris Griffiths, Anglo American Platinum;
- R Michael Jones, Platinum Group Metals;
- Ben Magara, Lonmin;
- Bruce McFadzean, Mawson West;
- Christian de Saint-Rome, Copperzone Resources;
- Mike Schmidt, African Rainbow Minerals;
- John Simpson, Peninsula Minerals;
- John Sisay, Sierra Rutile;
- Sylvie St-Jean, Ambatovy;
- Paul Thomson, A-Cap Resources;
- Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan (Venkat), Anglogold Ashanti;
- Neil Woodyer, Endeavour Mining Corporation; and
- Nikolai Zelenski, Nordgold.
The annual Investing in African Mining Indaba, now in its 21st year, is the world’s preferred brand and destination in African mining. This year it is better positioned than ever to deliver an unparalleled deal-making and discovery platform for global investors and African mining companies, according to the organisers.The conference provides a diverse and proven platform that gives all delegates – investors, financiers, mining executives, government officials, and other industry stakeholders – exceptional access to compelling investments across the entire continent.The Mining Indaba, as it is known, is dedicated to the capitalisation and development of mining interests in Africa. It is the world’s largest mining investment conference and Africa’s largest mining event. For two decades, it has served as the pathway for foreign investments into Africa’s mining value chain – opportunities ranging from small diamond deposits to mega coal projects. It is now part of Euromoney Institutional Investor.
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