“Amcu is not interested in buying those mines,” Gama told Parliament’s mineral resources portfolio committee.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) official added, however, that workers had expressed interest in acquiring ownership of mines in which they work to avoid exploitation by “foreign people”.
The National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM) health and safety chairman Peter Bailey said the union had a long-standing position that precluded it from buying companies in mining, engineering and construction.
“NUM will not move into the sector, not directly or indirectly,” he said.
“It is our view and we share it even in the federation Cosatu [Congress of SA Trade Unions].”
Asked by Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema whether he believed in state ownership of mines, Bailey said the ideological motivation for the state to run mines would be that it served as a model employer.
But he hastened to add that he did not believe this would be a realistic prospect if the government were to buy an ageing mine.
“The state needs to build capacity because it does not help for the state to own a mine and run it into the ground. That would not be beneficial,” Bailey said.
“The other reality of the state owning a mining company, sometimes we have these debates in a very shallow manner, because the expectation towards the state is that the state would not have a right to pay a low salary, the state would not have the right to retrench, the state would not have a right not to build houses, and the state must provide everything.
“Now, if that is what we are saying, then the state needs a healthy commodity, which is new and which is not a depleting commodity.
“For the state to take over these mines, the existing mines, is a debt burden. That is the harsh reality.”
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) last month announced plans to sell its Rustenburg and Union mines and to focus on more profitable, mechanised operations.