[miningmx.com] – CALL it bad luck, but Gold Fields may find itself in the naughty corner again as South Africa’s mining industry, its union, and government worthies gather again at the Mining Lekgotla – the talk-shop its participants insist isn’t a talk-shop.
Last year, the gold producer was the by-word for executive excess following revelations its CEO, Nick Holland, had been paid R45m in salaries and long-dated share awards.
For the current year, it’s the group’s shortcomings in implementing social and labour plans. This follows a Business Day article this week which cited a letter from the mineral resources department (DMR) threatening to suspend South Deep – Gold Fields most precious asset in terms of gold production and resources – unless it improved practices such as mentorship.
How employers treat employees will be seized with vigour at the lekgotla especially as Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s deputy president and former non-executive director of Lonmin, acknowledged on August 12 that the platinum firm’s living-out allowance policy had “unintended consequences” leading up to the Marikana atrocity in August, 2012.
Gold Fields might therefore be subject to some tut-tutting, but they’ll also be questions about the looming mining charter deadline and who qualifies and who doesn’t for a medal, and just how empowerment obligations will be finally met by the industry.
The recent five-month strike waged by the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) also lifted the temperature in the industry as does the provocative move by mines minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, to recall amendments to the Mineral & Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).
Only a year ago, Mark Cutifani said at the lekgotla’s Gala dinner that: “We are now confronted with amendments to the MPRDA that would create a whole new set of operating conditions for mining companies. This type of thing is terminal for anyone considering investing in our mining industry”.
Now, however, the chamber wants to stick with the devil it knows having toiled – with some important victories we’re told – in changing various unacceptable clauses.
Speaking at a lektola preview event on August 8, Chamber of Mines CEO, Bheki Sibiya, said the organisation had requested the minister to press ahead with the amendments, presumably because it fears the hard-earned gains of the current bill may be nixed, and that any tweaks the minister wants could be made when the regulations are written.
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