Where the mark may have been missed was on the following points:
- the president’s endorsement of oil and gas exploration in Africa — which would result in increased burning of fossil fuels. This does not correspond with SA’s commitments to help address global warming;
- missing an opportunity to address ESG (environment, social and governance) issues, and specifically the social element of ESG. We believe the focus of BEE should be less on high-level empowerment transactions and more on community schemes that deliver more direct benefits to communities in the long term;
- not providing more detail on the measures proposed to increase investment and grow SA’s mining industry. Illegal protests that disrupt mining operations are also not addressed by him. He also did not clarify exactly who would be responsible for improving the living conditions of host communities, though the government is responsible for the provision of services such as education, water, infrastructure, and health services;
- not fully addressing the issues of mining in a holistic context, as the mining industry is affected by the poor performance of other sectors of the economy, such as transport and policing. Despite progress being made, the DMRE policies sometimes clash with those of other departments. Co-ordination between government departments is vital for successful execution of growth-oriented policies; and
- not addressing the acute capacity shortages in the DMRE. Both corruption and capacity issues cause long delays in the production of cadastral systems and applications processing.
Though Ramaphosa’s speech more comprehensively addressed the issues facing the industry than the minerals minister’s speech, the president could have given more concrete action plans and timelines to try to build investor confidence. SA could be at the wrong time, as the global commodity market is booming. This is especially important given that the world’s appetite for commodity commodities has moved towards batteries metals. SA, aside from platinum and manganese, isn’t particularly rich in these materials.
While the president omitted to address certain issues (set out above), it is clear from his address that the government is seeking new and innovative ways to increase investment in SA while still progressing a just transition to a green economy.