At the Committee’s first meeting after the recess, a few items were discussed. The first item was the consideration of the Committee’s first-term programme. Two concerns were raised by Members- the one was that of the Asset Mind Drainage which was creating a major problem. The second one was of small scale minors who were being grossly neglected. It was decided that both those concerns be noted and further discussion be held in the near future. The programme was adopted as was discussed.
The second item on the agenda was the adoption of outstanding minutes from the previous year. It was decided Members would go through the minutes individually before it would be adopted at the next meeting. The final item was the Annual Activities Report which was a summary of the Committee’s activities from the previous year. This report was adopted without amedments.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed everyone back from their much needed recess. He noted that there were three items on the agenda which needed to be tackled. These included the Committee programme for the first-term, outstanding minutes and a report on their 2009 activities. The later report reflected the meetings which were held, the purpose of the meeting, meetings which were postponed, those that were cancelled and oversights that were done. It was a standard activities report rather than an annual report.
The Chairperson noted that 2010 had been declared as the year of action. Parliament had declared that more time would be allocated to oversight. Legislation would be handled but it would have to be focused and designated to deal with any possible bottleneck that were found in the process of the Committee doing its oversight work. The Chairperson appealed for the need to deliver. The Committee needed to assist the Department, the mining industry and all the role players, including labour and other interested parties so that they moved the industry in a direction that would be fruitful and useful for all South Africans.
The Chairperson explained that the programme was scheduled in such a way that more space was open for interaction between Parliament and the stakeholders in the sector so that first and foremost they were informed of the concerns and issues that pertained to the success of the industry. The Committee also needed to go out on its own and establish the facts of the situation. The frequency of meetings had therefore been increased slightly so that the Committee could do what it was supposed to do.
The Chairperson read out the different items in the agenda. On March 2010, the Department of Mineral Resouces would brief the Committee on the Auditor General’s report which was in Parliament in December 2009. The report looked at the state of a specific mine and the rehabilitation thereof. The impact that the mine had on the environment, the impact it had on the health of the people residing in close proximity of the mine was also looked at. The Auditor General had expressed displeasure about how the matter of rehabilitation was being handled.
On 19 March 2010, the Committee would be focusing their attention on the fact that there was a big body of people who claimed that they were not afforded the necessary space to participate meaningfully in the industry. Whether that was true or not would be established after all the information had been collected. In some instances there were uprisings that took place. It was therefore only prudent for Parliament to afford this group of people the space to articulate their views.
Mr H Schmidt (DA) said that he was acutely aware of Asset Mind Drainage (AMD) which was becoming a major problem. It seemed to be a function for the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs but was caused by the mining industry. The Committee should interact with this issue.
The Chairperson said that they would take that on board. Also, he recommended that Mr Schmidt raise the question when they dealt with the Auditor General’s report which dealt with the rehabilitation of mines.
Mr E Lucas (IFP) said that the small scale minors in the Kimberly region troubled him because they were being grossly neglected. No plan had been implemented to get them off the ground. They needed expertise and financial assistance.
The Chairperson said that the issue of small scale mining was already catered for and could be seen in the five year programme of the Committee. But as the Committee would deal with the matter of meaningful participation of formally disadvantaged individuals, as they were explained in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPDRA), people would have to familiarise themselves by asking the Department about the work they were doing on the matter.
Mr Lucas expressed concern about the use of coal in the country. Coal was not good for the environment yet it was still exported to different countries. The Committee should look at ways to clean the coal and use it in an environmentally friendly way. By doing that, the country would experience less expense and a more efficient way to use coal.
Mr Schmidt said that one of the most important factors for successful mining was beneficiation. Beneficiation was the answer for added value.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee needed to spend more time looking at the coal industry. There were no clear strategies or policies on the beneficiation of mineral commodities because the industry did not want to spend money on cleaning coal. The Committee needed to set time aside to discuss the issue of beneficiation.
The Chairperson then asked whether the programme could be approved as discussed.
The Committee adopted without amendments.
The Chairperson requested Members to consider all the outstanding minutes from the previous year.
Members felt that it would be pointless to scrutinise these minutes and suggested that they be adopted.
The Chairperson suggested that Members had a look at the minutes in their own time before Friday. If there were no amendments to be made, they could then adopt all the minutes.
Members agreed to this suggestion.
2009 Committee Annual Report
The Chairperson the Committee’s 2009 Annual Report for consideration.
The report was adopted without amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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