AUCKLAND PARK – It’s time to focus on employment using the mining industry as a driver, said the Democratic Alliance’s Shadow Minister of Mining at the first day of the Joburg Junior Mining Indaba on Wednesday.
In the complete absence of any officials from the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources, the DA’s James Lorimer said the key difference in policy approach between his party and that of the ruling ANC would be the “lens from which we see the industry”.
This relates specifically to driving employment. “The ANC views mining as a way of putting assets in black hands. While this is important, with the industry having transferred over R350 billion in value by way of empowerment deals over the last decade, it has come at a cost and not made mining as attractive as possible. We think the most important thing mining delivers is employment – particularly for people that are unskilled or semi-skilled. In a country where nine million people looking for work do not have jobs, we think employment should be the focus.”
While Lorimer would not be drawn on the details, logically, the implication for ownership under a DA regime would see requirements like the rumoured 30% black ownership in the soon-to-be-released mining charter fall away, or drastically reduced.
The imperative to drive as much sustainable mining as possible would also see the DA enacting legislation that would treat exploration and junior mining companies differently to larger, more established players. “The junior sector is the entry point. Slow and uncertain regulation and a one-size-fits-all approach dogs the junior mining sector. It costs so much to get the required environmental licences for projects for instance. We need a nimbler regulatory regime and one that also delivers better enforcement. I like the idea of MPRDA lite,” says Lorimer.
Lorimer also indicated his party would not be averse to re-examining tax incentives for mining companies, particularly in light of more stringent tax proposals by the likes of the Davis Tax Committee. “It does seem to me, if mining fostered industrialisation in this country using a specific set of tax issues, we should keep them,” say Lorimer.