Remarks by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas at the Small miners Conference

MSCC, Kimberley, 16 July 2015

Programme Director
Honourable Minister of Mineral Resources, Adv. Ramatlhodi
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Mayors and Councillors

Mine Management
Leaders of our Social Partners, Business; Labour and
Government officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
Members of the media

It is particular pleasing and heart-warming to have the Honourable Minister of Mineral Resources in our midst again. Particularly more so after he made true to his commitment during the Imbizo programme earlier this year that he will return for a mining conference. This has always been the culture in the ruling African National Conference to honour our commitments and make good on the promises made to our people.

It is a great pleasure for me to be part of this important engagement that seeks to address challenges faced by our small scale miners. As Government we have the responsibility of addressing poverty and inequality. You might ask how this fits in with mining but in a Province such as the Northern Cape, mining and mineral wealth has the potential to lift people out of poverty and create that better life that we all aspire to.

The Northern Cape Province has a unique socio-economic profile underpinned by its massive landmass with a very low population density. This is combined with a brilliant resource profile and an adequately developed infrastructure that is able to service the socio-economic priorities of the Province.

Mining in the Northern Cape has a history of prime boom and extraction of resources with no local value add and departing while leaving local communities worse off than before. The Province, as stated, has an enormous resource profile and added to that is the supply of goods and services to these sectors. What needs to be considered is the related potential of adding value to the primary resources produced in the Province and by that I mean beneficiation.

The rich mineral profile of the Province ranges from diamonds, iron ore and manganese to granite and rare earths. It has been mentioned in many economic strategic documents and commentary that the nature of not only the Northern Cape economy is characterized with and abundance of economic activity in the primary sector where we have little activity in the tertiary sector.

This does not mean that there are not enormous possibilities for trade and investment potential. Possibilities range from exporting iron and manganese to polishing diamonds, manufacturing jewellery from tiger’s eye, constructing an iron ore smelter and investing in the Kathu Industrial supplier park to manufacturing and assembling goods required by the mining sector.

This is only but a sneak preview of the Province’s dependency on the Primary sectors such as Mining and Agriculture to assist in creating jobs, alleviating poverty and rooting out inequality. Important therefore is growing this economy and also making it possible for trade to become a possibility because trade is a key indicator of a country’s competitiveness and development in the globalised economy.

We therefore make a call to investors to maximise job opportunities for local people and strengthen linkages with local markets and supply chains. Crucial is the promotion of transparency and respect for human rights and dignity.

As Government it is our responsibility to ensure that we challenge how the resources are managed and we need to be assured that the benefits from extracting, benefit society and that they will be utilised for the long-term development of the Province. As stakeholders that are gathered here today we need to ensure that mining delivers tangible benefits for local communities, making sure that the most vulnerable in society are protected. And central to this is great consideration and appreciation for the natural environment that mining depends upon.

Working together with all the sectors of our society, we need to radically change our economy. The radical approach we are adopting moving forward, requires the mobilisation of all sectors of society to accelerate economic growth, create jobs and reduce inequality.

I want to emphasise that transformation of the economy generally and the mining industry specifically should not be misconstrued as an event, but a journey and that transformation remains at the centre of development of this Province and South Africa as a whole. Minister, I am sure that during your engagements with our people you would've found them to be warm and willing to grab any and every opportunity to make reality of that vision of a better life for all.

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