On Monday more than 7,000 delegates from 100 countries and territories across six continents will descend on Cape Town for the biggest mining gathering on the planet in one of arguably the toughest years in the history of African mining.
The continent is facing economic uncertainty, doubts over mining legislation and regulation, power cuts and looming strikes. Even the optimists, that is the government of South Africa, admit there could be as many as 32,000 jobs under threat in the country’s mines.
This would be a severe blow to an industry, that despite several setbacks in the last five years, is still top dog in Africa employing 400,000 people. Pay talks are expected in the platinum industry later this year, with the dominant union AMCU, that could lead to a strike costing billions and thousands of jobs. The union led a five month strike in platinum two years ago.
AMCU will make its debut at this year’s indaba and is likely to arrive with characteristic uncompromising views on mining that could unsettle one or two foreign investors.
“We feel it is not ok for corporations to come into our country make decisions about what is happening in our country and then leave,” says Manzini Zungu, the spokesman for AMCU.
One of the highlights of this year’s gathering is that South Africa’s new mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane will open proceedings and give the mining world a hint of how his government plans to stem the flow of capital out.
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