Every mining job in South Africa supports two others overseas. These were the words from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President, Joseph Mathunjwa, at the Union Buildings on 20 March 2018.

 

President Mathunjwa made these remarks at the just-ended nationwide protest marches that highlighted the need for improved response into mining to save jobs and improve miners’ working conditions.

President Mathunjwa urged the country’s leadership to prioritise beneficiation within the mining sector, which will create more jobs.

“The DMR needs to include within the Mining Charter dispensation as requirement for all multinational corporations to bring beneficiation technology to the country and transfer their foreign operations to South Africa if they want to continue mining,” President Mathunjwa said.

The mining sector has been bleeding jobs over the past decades.

“In the past 20 years, the sector has lost 270 000 jobs through various termination mechanisms related to retrenchments, incapacities and fatalities,” President Mathunjwa said.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 35 000 jobs were lost in the last three months of 2018.

Mineral beneficiation has been the talk of government since the days of Susan Shabangu’s tenure as the Minister of Mineral Resources. In 2012, she noted that with an estimated mineral wealth of $2.5 trillion, “Beneficiation is the vehicle through which South Africa’s resource-based comparative advantage can be transformed into a national competitive advantage.”

 

Seven years, four ministers of mineral resources and two state presidents later, Shabangu’s words are nowhere near implementation.

As President Mathunjwa noted on previous occasions, the current economy was inherited as it is from the apartheid government, which intended for South Africa’s wealth to enrich a few.

It’s about time mine workers and ordinary South Africans share in the mineral wealth of the country.

The government has until Tuesday 27 March 2018 to respond to the memorandum AMCU handed over to the Department of Mineral Resources at the national socio-economic march.

 

26 March 2018