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MINERALS & ENERGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
16 November 1999
AGENDA FOR THE YEAR 2000
The chairperson, Mr Nkosi (ANC) explained to the committee that they would not be having a briefing on St. Lucia because the matter is now going to be dealt with by the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism. He told the committee that cabinet approves of St. Lucia being a World Heritage Site.
Mr Oliphant (ANC) asked if there are any questions or concerns on St. Lucia if they can be addressed through the chairperson. The Minister explained that when there are two Ministers involved one Minister is "champion" and in this case that is the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Therefore, all questions will have to be directed to that department. The chairperson advised the committee to follow up later on the matter since the committee had limited time and it needed to discuss its future agenda.
The Minister told the committee that there are going to be quite a few bills in the up coming session. One of which is the Mineral Development Bill. This bill is an amendment to the current Mining Act. The Minister indicated that it will be going through Cabinet around January or February and the committee should be dealing with it by March or April. She predicted that by the middle of next year the committee will be busy with public hearings. Minister Mlambo-Ngcuka asked the committee to familiarise themselves with mineral rights since it will be a big challenge in this bill.
The committee will also be dealing with the Lebowa Mineral Trust Act in the new year. The Minister told the committee that this bill will attempt to regularise the situation so that it is in line with national policy.
Another major bill the committee will work on is the Energy Supply Bill. The Minister said that this bill will cover the whole spectrum of the energy sector. They are going to look at several things including the supply and demand for energy in South Africa, the sources of energy, risks and use of nuclear energy, and the distribution of electricity. This bill will also seek to deal with the number of levies imposed on individuals.
Minister Mlambo-Ngcuka told the committee that they will be restructuring the Central Energy Fund (CEF). They are still negotiating with all of the companies but they should have a concrete master plan at the end of negotiations.
South Africa is going to be involved in the construction of a new gas pipeline. This project will involve the Mozambique government and companies.
The Minster told the committee that next year they are aiming to have 80% of Eskom's connections done in rural areas. In addition, they are hoping to improve electricity in schools. The will also be focusing on maintenance and quality control to avoid piracy.
The committee will be looking at the new Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). They will check the waste management policy programme to ensure an efficient system for waste management. The committee will consult with the Atomic Energy Corporation and others to see what will need to be done to create a policy to guide them into the future.
In the area of promotion of repositioning in the mining industry, the Minister felt that they are going to have to do two years of promotion to really define the industry in the eyes of the market. The Department will kick-start their mining summit in Petoria in February 2000. This summit should assist to address the key issue of social planning, which will be integrated with rural planning. In addition, the summit will be a one-stop shop for businesses that want to invest in the sector.
In the area of health and safety the Minister Mlambo-Ngcuka told the committee that the number of accidents have declined, but there are still too many. She indicated that they will request the committee to make spot checks and visits to mines throughout South Africa. In addition, she wants to look into the interests of injured miners who tend to be ignored. She believes that they are entitled to life long medical care. Minister Mlambo-Ngcuka told the committee that little things like having a wheel chair need to be addressed for injured miners.
The Minister told the committee that she wants to start looking into access to affordable finance for small miners. She said that small miners also need more access to technology. She admits that the Department does not have any concrete solutions but they are targeting the problems. She added that they are stepping up their work on HIV/AIDS since miners are a high-risk group. This is being done jointly with the Department of Labour.
Minister Mlambo-Ngcuka concluded by telling the committee about a publication on mining in South Africa, which was made for a build up to the summit. She said that it was not ground breaking news but it shows the strengths of the industry.
Mr Nkosi (ANC) reminded the committee that it was just an information session to get the parliamentary program so they would not be accepting questions. He thanked the Minister for her presentation and the meeting was adjourned.
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