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MINERALS AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 March 2002
BRIEFING ON IMPLEMENTATION OF MINING SUMMIT OUTCOMES AND SMALL SCALE MINING; DE BEERS PRESENTATION AND ADOPTION OF THE ERMDEC REPORT
Chairperson: Mr R. Mofokeng
Documents handed out:
Department of Minerals and Energy presentation
De Beers presentation
(Copies of the documents, which are currently available in electronic format, are available on request from contracttrust)
The Department briefed the committee on the initiatives that had resulted from the mining summit that was held in February 2000. The committee was also given a breakdown of the Department's initiatives in supporting small-scale mining in South Africa. De Beers was also given the opportunity to address the committee on matters relating to the creation of sustainable employment in South Africa. Their projects were not only limited to mining but had a broader aim of eradicating poverty and unemployment as a whole. The committee was scheduled to adopt the ERMDEC Report but disagreement amongst members on the contents of the report necessitated its discussion and adoption to be postponed until a later time.
Implementation of Mining Summit Outcomes and Small Scale Mining
The Department briefed the committee on the initiatives that had arisen out the Mining Sector Summit that was held on the 25 and 26 February 2000. The delegation comprised of Mr T. Ramonja, Mr A. Eager and Ms Ntombela. The committee was provided with a brief overview of the various structures that had been formed to oversee the strategic implementation of initiatives that had been agreed upon at the summit. The committee was also given a breakdown of the aims of the various initiatives.
The Department additionally presented an overview of their activities in providing support to small-scale mining. The committee was given a breakdown of activities in various provinces.
Mr I. Davidson (DP) stated that he got the impression that many of the initiatives that had been undertaken by the Department were in the pipeline and had not as yet reached fruition. He asked at what stage would the committee be able to receive a report back on the completion of some of the initiatives.
Mr Ramonja stated that the implementation of some of the initiatives had moved forward. He stated that a report would be made available in the near future. Mr Ramonja said that new challenges and initiatives were always surfacing.
Mr Davidson reacted that it would be preferable for the Department to submit an annual report to the committee.
Mr Ramonja noted that if the committee so wished, annual reports would be submitted.
Mr Davidson asked for clarity on what constituted a banking document as was referred to during the presentation.
Mr Ramonja explained that a banking document was actually a detailed business plan.
Ms D. Motubatse (ANC) asked what were countries in Latin America doing that South Africa was not doing to attract foreign investment.
Mr Ramonja stated that Latin American countries had created an enabling environment to attract foreign investment by way of revamping their legislation.
Ms Motubatse asked by when would the Department's Mining School of Excellence be established.
Mr Ramonja said that he did not have a specific date.
Ms Motubatse commented that transformation at regional level in the Department was slow. She asked what mechanisms were in place to monitor their progress.
Mr Ramonja conceded that problems do exist with capacity but that they were being addressed.
Ms L. Xingwana (ANC) asked whether small-scale platinum miners were also given assistance. She noted that small-scale platinum miners in the Northern Province and North West Province needed assistance.
Mr Ramonja stated that the Department did not provide assistance in platinum mining, as they were not aware of small-scale platinum miners.
Mr E. Lucas (IFP) asked what the actual progress being made by the Department was in assisting small-scale miners in rural areas. He also asked if miners were being given skills development training?
Mr Ramonja noted that assistance to small-scale miners was only being used as a vehicle to promote broader sustainable development in rural areas. He said that a mine on its own was not infinitely sustainable and therefore communities had to find alternatives with which to sustain themselves.
Mr Ramonja stated that the Council of Geosciences, Mintek and even certain mining companies were engaged in skills development programmes.
Ms Ntombela added that the Department had realized that mines were not infinitely sustainable and therefore engaged with the Departments of Education, Housing and Finance to find alternative ways of making communities sustainable.
Mr S. Blanche (FA) asked for timeframes on the sustainability of the small-scale mining projects by the Department.
Mr Ramonja stated that the projects that had been undertaken by the Department had the aim of making communities self-sustainable. The projects were not only limited to mining but included other activities as well.
Ms E. Ngaleka (ANC) asked if provision had been made for women in the projects that had been undertaken.
Mr Ramonja said that women had been included in their projects. He stated that in the Kwazulu-Natal women were solely spearheading a project.
Ms Ngaleka asked what was being done to assist mining communities that were experiencing problems.
Mr Ramonja agreed that it was an issue that needed to be addressed by the Department.
Mr J. Nash (ANC) asked if the Department had addressed problems of employment equity in the mining industry.
Mr Ramonja said that the issue had been discussed and that it had been identified as a challenge and focus area.
Ms Xingwana asked what the process for communities was to eventually reach the stage of having a business plan drawn up.
Mr Ramonja proceeded to give a lengthy explanation of the process, from the initial point of feasible studies up until the eventual funding of the project.
Mr J. Oppenheimer presented the committee with a brief summary of the principles underlying the NEPAD initiative. The rest of the delegation from De Beers comprised of Mr A. Cumine, Mr P. Kettle, Mr R. Masebelanga and Mr F. Mucerne. The NEPAD initiative essentially had the aim of creating sustainability in African mining. Mr Oppenheimer specifically dealt with the role of De Beers in the initiative and how it would be contributing to the creation of sustainability in South African mining, whether it was being done on a large or small scale. NEPAD had recognized the need for co-operation between government, parliament and business to create an environment that would be conducive to foreign investment. The creation of sustainability in Africa was especially important given the problems of poverty and unemployment that were prevalent. Mr Oppenheimer emphasized the need for the initiative to be a success in South Africa, as it would be setting a benchmark for the rest of Africa.
Ms Motubatse asked what the priorities of De Beers were for 2002 either domestically or for the rest of the African continent.
Mr Oppenheimer stated that the difficulty was committing funds for capital investments when uncertainty remained over the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Bill. He however noted that De Beers was still however committed to development in South Africa. Mr Oppenheimer proceeded to give the committee examples of initiatives that De Beers had undertaken both locally and internationally.
Mr Davidson stated that the committee would have to be made aware of the criteria that NEPAD had identified to stimulate foreign investment.
Mr Oppenheimer stated that De Beers would be happy to address the committee from time to time to keep members abreast of developments.
Mr Mongwaketse commented that De Beers should try to make South Africa the hub of the mining industry in Africa. He asked if there were any ways of solving the unemployment problems in South Africa.
Mr Oppenheimer stressed the importance of creating sustainable jobs and noted that it was only possible in a growing economy. He added that NEPAD had projected a growth rate of 7% in the industry.
Ms Xingwana asked how many of De Beers projects involved women.
The Chairperson placed the report before the committee for adoption.
Mr S. Blanche (FA) had concerns over the report and proposed that its adoption be postponed until such time that the committee had reconsidered it. He strongly felt that the report contained inconsistencies that had to be discussed by the committee.
Ms Motubatse raised a point of order and stated that the committee had already considered the report and that reopening the issue would only delay proceedings.
Mr Davidson said that it was clear that members held different opinions and proposed that the report be reconsidered and adopted at a later meeting.
The committee had agreed to the proposal.
The meeting was adjourned.
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