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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the 27th Investing in African Mining Indaba, held virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic
The president told delegates of the grave disruption to South Africa's economy and mining and energy sector that has been caused by the pandemic.
But he said South Africa mining had shown tremendous resilience and ability to come back, with mining companies showing a "strong presence" on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2020.
He said, "Mining production has had an impressive recovery following the safe return of mining activities from the start of the coronavirus alert level 4. According to Statistics South Africa, the mining and quarrying industry was among the biggest contributors to growth in the third quarter of 2020. Higher production was mainly due to increased activity in the platinum group metals, iron ore, manganese, gold and diamonds.
"The ability of mining to weather the storm relatively well is also due to the positive working relations between the government and mining industry. This is something that we should continue to build on. We should adapt to the realities of Covid-19 provide greater policy certainty, attract higher levels of investment and protect livelihoods at the same time.
"Sustainable mining is key to accelerated industrialisation, innovation, competition, and creating employment, to ensure that we increase the contribution of both mining and energy to meeting our developmental aspirations.
"We have taken significant steps to solve policy and regulatory issues that investors have identified and previously raised with us as constraints to greater investment."
He stressed that in South Africa, it was their aspiration that the recovery from Covid-19 would further the cause for a more inclusive economy.
"The mining sector should strive for greater sustainability, competitiveness as well as transformation. Mining companies should foster an inclusive approach to all aspects of mining; from ownership, particpation in management, and also in procurement. There should be greater inclusion of women, women-owned businesses in all these areas," he continued.
"Mining companies should strive to incorporate and actively implement an environmental, social and governance standard in all aspects of their business decisions and operations. The social and labour plans are critical to ensuring mining communities benefit from mining acitivites in their areas so that no one is left behind.
"Industry must step up their efforts to provide employment, business and training opportunities to people in the communities in which mining companies operate. All these elements are included in the mining charter. It is important that our commitment to transformation extends beyond compliance, but is understood as creating shared value and prosperity for the people of South Africa."