Modern Mining December 2022

the figure is as high as 10). And while mines of the future will employ fewer people, mining remains a potentially catalytic force for other industries to grow. Overall, though, net fixed invest ment and new mine construction in South Africa has been declining over the past two decades. Without mining sector growth, South Africa will struggle to keep its head above water. Growth will help to address a range of challenges, but these challenges are the very barri ers to further growth. This was the message from Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter at an Anglo American

conference on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 this week. SDG 16 is particularly important because it is a gateway SDG to achieving a range of other SDGs, not least of which is SDG 8, growth and prosperity. SDG16 is peace, justice and strong insti tutions. Any economist worth their salt will tell you that institutions are the fundamental cause of long run growth. As we know all too well, South Africa’s key institutions were hollowed out during the Zuma years and it turns out it’s enormously difficult to reverse that (just ask Andre De Ruyter). In the vacu ums created by that hollowing out, organised crime has proliferated. There is a path dependence to this, a kind of inertia that threatens to overwhelm, if not quickly eliminated. But the state’s capacity to deliver accountability and snuff out organised crime is thin. It is not only that procurement and construction mafias demand a share of any new project, or that local gangs masquerade as community interest groups, it’s that organised crime continues to infil

Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) constructed by local municipal authorities that govern in min ing host communities. Simple refinements to these SLP requirements would free companies to invest in institutional capacity building that would improve the governance systems of entire regions and help the IDPs to gain real-world traction instead of being pipedreams. At Good Governance Africa, where I lead the research work, we’ve just released an intelligence report that visually demonstrates the correlation between local governance performance and political stability. The implication is clear – any investment in improving local government effectiveness will con tribute to growing stability required for economic dynamism to flourish. This is not only good for mining productivity, but it would also increase the growth of other businesses. In our challenging and volatile national and global contexts, this is a low-hanging fruit that should immediately be actioned. 

Organised crime continues to infiltrate entities like Eskom and Transnet.

Without mining sector growth, South Africa will struggle to keep its head above water.

trate entities like Eskom and Transnet. It’s clear, then, that the mining indus try faces an uphill battle and growth is not likely to be forthcoming until sig nificant progress is made in retarding the current major barriers to invest ment growth. However, there are immediate wins on the regulatory front that would at least help private sector players like Anglo make their social investments that much more productive. For instance, the Social and Labour plan (SLP) requirements of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act are narrow, overly formulaic and almost create the parochial kind of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) white elephants that the private sec tor wants to move away from (schools that end up without running water or teachers, for example). SLP require ments typically do not cohere with the

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