There is too much potential in South Africa’s mining industry to allow it to be destroyed as it will cause the country’s economy to implode or bring it to the brink of an implosion, Adv. Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ parliamentary spokesperson on the economy said.
Adv. Alberts said yesterday during a parliamentary discussion on transformation and the sustainability of the mining industry that an economy with less mining activity should be planned for now already.
He said the commodity cycle has a longer path and it is important for South Africa’s economy to diversify to create and retain job opportunities.
“Good leadership and cooperation between all the concerned parties is needed now to give direction to the search for sustainable solutions. Mine owners should invest in workers and their health as well as in the communities surrounding mines.
“Trade unions and their members should realise that the world is changing fast. Where previously the struggle was fought in racial terms between owners and workers, it will soon be a struggle between human and robot in the work place.
“The sombre science fiction future has not arrived completely, but the phase is definitely being entered into where mechanisation is playing a great roleas technology develops. Machines, robots and other forms of technology will increasingly replace humans in the workplace as a counter-measure to curb labour costs and low production.
“A balanced approach is therefore needed for work sustainability in a labour intensive mineral industry. Trade unions that set unreasonable demands will lose everything when mines rather start using technology or withdraw from the country.
“The ANC government also has a role to play by creating policy certainty to draw foreign investments and to allow existing mines to expand in harmony with the surrounding communities, workers and the natural environment. This is not happening at present.
“The issue of the expropriation of mineral rights is also a source of concern. Although the Constitutional Court interprets expropriation as custodianship it is a given that rights had been unilaterally alienated. It is important that compensation should be part of the process even if it is in the form of future profit-sharing. This would be a reasonable solution of a difficult problem,” Adv. Alberts said.
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