Tuesday, 05 February 2019

Cape Town: President Cyril Ramaphosa says mining companies should invest in development where they mine and in their employees in order to make a meaningful contribution to the areas in which they operate.

He said companies should invest in the health and safety of their workers, in the infrastructure where their operations are such as roads and water, and also invest in skills and education.

These are some of the 10 principles that President Ramaphosa shared with mining captains of industry when he addressed the Investing in African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

“We firmly believe that mining companies have the resources, the capabilities and an interest in more deliberately contributing to development, both where they are located and across society.

“Mining companies have an opportunity to create broader social value in a way that also enhances the success of their business,” he said.

The President challenged the mining industry to adopt 10 value creating principles for a more modern, successful and productive mining industry.

He said it has been shown that companies that care about the upliftment of workers and communities are more successful.

“We live in a world where people no longer want to have things happen around them without their knowledge and involvement. They want to be engaged and have their views heeded.

“Companies, government and labour must work together to create shared value and ensure the benefits of mining are more widely spread.”

The President said the industry should partner with local authorities to improve infrastructure such as water and roads in the areas where they operate. Such infrastructure is critical for the effective functioning of mines, and too often companies and municipalities do not coordinate their work or even operate at cross purposes, President Ramaphosa said.

Investing in the living conditions of workers  

The President said companies need to see investment in the living conditions of their workers as more than a regulatory obligation.

“Through, for example, building decent houses for workers, companies can ensure workers are much more productive and can demonstrate their commitment to build sustainable working communities. Such social investment is an important part of the effort to end the the dehumanising effect of the migrant labour system.”

He said mining companies need to invest in education and training. The President lauded companies that are far-sighted enough to set up early childhood education centres, as well as those that are helping to develop hardcore skills that are needed now, such as mining engineering, metallurgy and artisan training.

“We urge companies to embrace the recommendations of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work, in particular the commitment to a lifelong learning process. This involves skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling to equip workers to manage the work transitions that will result from technological advances.”

Partnerships with training colleges

The President said mining companies should partner with training colleges and also contribute to the development of curricula and providing work experience for students.

He said this will, among other things, ensure that companies can draw on a pool of well-trained graduates with relevant skills and experience.

Embracing beneficiation

The President said mining companies should embrace beneficiation.

“Not only does beneficiation encourage the expansion of our industrial capacity, create employment and enable the extraction of greater value from our mineral wealth, it also helps to create demand for these metals and locates markets for these metals closer to the site of production,” he said.

He said several companies have seen the logic of local beneficiation and are keen to work with government to develop downstream industries.

Investing in health and safety of workers

The President said companies need to pay more attention to, and invest more in, the health and safety of workers.

“As a matter of principle, workers should not be exposed to life-threatening situations or where they could suffer bodily harm.  Safe and healthy workers are also much more productive.”

Internships and job experience

The President challenged companies to provide internships and job experience opportunities for young people – as well as provide business opportunities for SMMEs –  because that is the only way to prepare youth for the world of work and stimulate growth through the active participation of SMMEs.

He said companies must prioritise the development of young women through proactive hiring policies, prioritised training, promotion and mentorship.

Making employees shareholders

The President said mining companies must have the courage to include their workers in the shareholding of the companies.

“They need to give due recognition to unions and be willing to bring them onto boards. Many companies are already doing many of these things. They need to be applauded and emulated by others, for it is through creating shared value that we can ensure a sustainable industry that benefits all.

“Please be assured that Team South Africa stands ready to work with you as we set the mining industry on a new path of growth and renewal,” President Ramaphosa said. – SAnews.gov.za