Mining has been, and remains, the engine room of the South African economy. This was the view of Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani, speaking at the recent Enterprise Development Conference 2013 at Gallagher Estate, Midrand.

“A growing mining industry will be vital in creating an environment for sustainable employment growth and rising living standards, inclusive economic development and improving the country’s competitiveness,” said Cutifani.

However, Cutifani added it was “regrettable” that, over the past five years, the South African mining industry has experienced a 40% drop in value in real terms.

“We witnessed the tragedy of Marikana, which is still very fresh in our hearts and minds, and we have policy uncertainty that would make our decisions of where to invest that much harder,” said Cutifani.

He said that while the global economic downturn had impacted on the demand for commodities, “if the mining industry is to get back on its feet, we need to get the pieces of the puzzle right.”

Cutifani said: “Put simply, if the mining industry does well, all South Africans stand to benefit. It is only by growing the pie that greater progress can be made in delivering the jobs, housing, education, health and quality infrastructure millions of South Africans demand and deserve.

“But the mining industry can only continue to invest in building this great nation if we have an investment-friendly environment, stable, transparent and predictable policy settings, adherence to the rule of law in labour relations and safer communities for our employees.”

Cutifani also commented that Anglo American “embodies the spirit of South Africa“, as exemplified by its Zimele enterprise development programme. “Zimele is about reshaping the role of mining in society by providing local people with the tools to help themselves and enable their communities to prosper.” Anglo American launched its latest Sebenza Fund at the conference.