Business News 8.9.2016 10:52 am

More than 6k derelict mines with no owners – mining deputy minister

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant| Supplied

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant| Supplied

‘We are still dealing with the legacy of environmentally irresponsible mining in the form of over 6 000 derelict and ownerless mines,’ the minister says.l

South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant on Thursday said mistakes of the past, which have left the country with more than 6 000 “derelict and ownerless mines”, would not be allowed in the next century of mining.

“Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past, or to do in other jurisdictions that which we would not be allowed or inclined to do at home,” Oliphant said.

“In South Africa, we are still dealing with the legacy of environmentally irresponsible mining in the form of over 6 000 derelict and ownerless mines, so to speak, and acid mine drainage, which pose real dangers to communities on a daily basis.”

Oliphant said the country had a century-old mining history and, on all evidence to date, had at least another 100 years of discovery, exploration and mining.

He said South Africa’s future mining history would overturn the lack of environmental responsibility that dogged its past.

The deputy minister said that changes were already being implemented.

“In preparation for the next century of mining in South Africa, we have reviewed and proposed amendments to the mining regulatory framework, including the principle legislation, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002 or MPRDA,” Oliphant said.

“Since its promulgation, we saw that it had created an enabling environment for growth of the sector, rationalisation of mining and prospecting rights, and further provided the basis for the transformation of the industry and its disassociation with apartheid exploitation economics.”

Oliphant made his remarks during his address on Thursday to the second day of the three-day “Paydirt 2016 Africa Down Under Mining Conference” in Perth, Australia.

Oliphant said South Africa would also continue to pursue value addition and beneficiation, and leverage its position as supplier of 80% of global platinum output while addressing energy security through development of fuel cells.

‘South Africa has an enviable supporting infrastructure, and in just a decade, has doubled the number of mines and quarries from 800 to around 1 700 now across more than 50 mineral commodities.’

He said South Africa’s future mining history would overturn the lack of environmental responsibility that dogged its past.

“The next century of mining must also be characterised by environmentally responsible and sustainable mining. Long after the life of mine or depletion of resource, we want to not only see thriving economies, but an environment that has been faithfully rehabilitated,” Oliphant said.

Oliphant said the cost of closing shafts and holes left open, as well as rehabilitating land and water systems in retrospect, was exorbitant.

The deputy minister also spoke of the work to address the compensation of ex-mineworkers and treatment of mining-related diseases.

“Some of these health issues are not emerging until 20 years or so after mining ceased, and due to the asbestos mining in the past, there are still ex-mineworkers being diagnosed with asbestosis.”

Oliphant referred to benchmarking studies undertaken in Australia with support of the University of Queensland and the need to address the growing demand for increased compensation in a sector that historically relied on cheap labour.

He said South Africa was upbeat about the future, as its mining sector was mature and resilient, and that government remained committed to encouraging direct investment in the economy at large and mining in particular.

“South Africa has an enviable supporting infrastructure, and in just a decade, has doubled the number of mines and quarries from 800 to around 1 700 now across more than 50 mineral commodities,” Oliphant said.

“Mining is a cyclical business, however, and there are signs that we are reaching the bottom of the downturn in commodity prices, and a new balance is emerging in demand and supply of minerals. This was placed in the context of 3.3% GDP growth in the last quarter in South Africa, driven in no small part by a 12% growth in the mining sector.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

 

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