Speech: Budget Debate of the Department of Minerals: 15 July 2014
It is worrying that the government is already licking its lips for the development of shale gas without the established mineral industry’s problems being properly addressed, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on Minerals said.
Adv. Alberts says the FF Plus is concerned about the manner in which the government is dealing with the mineral assets of the country. South Africa has tremendous mineral wealth but the government is struggling to use it to the advantage of the country as a whole.
“The problems of the mining industry are quite complex and have existed for a long time. It can however be solved and good leadership is needed to avoid a repetition of the recent prolonged negotiations.
“Mining bosses should look after their workers better and should invest in the communities in the areas where they mine. Companies, such as Kumba, have set a good example in this regard.
“On the other side, trade unions should also realise that they find themselves in a changing world. Where the struggle had previously been between workers and the owners and also divided along racial lines, it will in future increasingly be between man and robots.
“Although we are not living in this science fiction future, mechanization is developing rapidly due to technological advances. Machines, robots and other forms of mechanisation will increasingly replace human workers as labour costs rise.
“A balanced approach is therefore necessary in an environment that is labour intensive. Trade unions, who demand too much, will have their hopes dashed as mines mechanise or withdraw from the country.
“We would however want to congratulate the minister for his intention to have the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill sent back to Parliament for renewed evaluation. We hope that the president will allow this.
“The 20% free carry that the state could acquire from exploration and production rights will prevent any investment from occurring in this industry.
“The fact that the state could purchase a further 80% could effectively mean that the state nationalises a mining company under the guise of managing strategic minerals. It is therefore nothing other than nationalisation under another name.
“A way should also be found to compensate people who have been dispossessed of their mineral rights. A possibility is to give the previous holder of such rights and the surrounding community shares in the new company which develops the minerals. This would be to the advantage of everyone,” Adv. Alberts said.
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