South Africa’s mines minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said he was considering declaring certain minerals such as coal and iron ore as ‘strategic’ for the country.

“We haven’t classified any, but it is provided for under the mineral bill, which is before the president. If that bill is signed into law, then it will give the minister the ability to declare certain minerals strategic for purposes of industrialisation in South Africa,” said the minister, reported Reuters.

Mine-gate price

Under the bill, such minerals ‘will be sold for production costs excluding transportation. That is the mine-gate price. And the industry is comfortable with that, because they negotiated that formulae’, said the mines minister.

He would not be drawn categorically on what he will declare strategic, noted Reuters. However, Ramatlhodi said, “Iron ore is obvious and coal, because coal fires our power stations.”

“There is coal for export and coal of a lesser quality, which stays in the country. That we would want to keep for our power stations,” he added.

Affected miners

Companies that could be affected include Kumba Iron Ore, which is a unit of Anglo American, and mining companies Exxaro and BHP Billiton.

Ramatlhodi dismissed reports that a forthcoming meeting between Russian and South African officials would lay the groundwork for an OPEC-style platinum cartel between the nations, which account for about 80% of global production of the precious metal.

He would rather see the industry and private sector find ways to support the platinum price, which recently hit five-year lows and is a major export earner, he said.

Mining charter audit

Meanwhile, Ramatlhodi said he was forming teams of representatives from companies, labour and the government to audit the mining industry’s compliance with rules under the mining charter, according to Reuters.

All three sides would have their input in the teams before the final outcome is unveiled, and the use of such teams will help ‘control outcomes and to remove tensions’, the Minister said.

Mining companies that fail to meet the deadline can face fines and other punitive measures.

Ramatlhodi said the teams will accelerate the process of charter auditing, which he complained had been too slow.

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