Shabangu lambasts mining industry over instability
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu lashes out at the mining industry for not following the framework that was signed last month by stakeholders to bring stability in the platinum mining sector.
MINERAL Resources Minister Susan Shabangu yesterday lashed out at the mining industry for not following the framework that was signed last month by stakeholders to bring stability in the platinum mining sector.
The minister was commenting on the work stoppage on Tuesday by workers from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, at Lonmin’s Marikana mine near Rustenburg. The workers are demanding the closure of the National Union of Mineworker’s branch office at the mine. They returned to work yesterday.
“We have all committed ourselves to the framework to bring peace and stability, and to follow the constitution that enshrines the freedom of association and disassociation,” she said yesterday.
“Employers must look at the framework and follow the rules.”
Ms Shabangu was speaking on the sidelines of the official launch by BHP Billiton SA, the subsidiary of the world’s largest diversified resources miner BHP Billiton, of its R1bn “energy efficient” ferromanganese furnace at its metal alloys smelter in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg.
The M14 furnace has the capacity to produce between 120,000 to 130,000 tons of high carbon ferromanganese a year, the 81MVA furnace — heralded as the biggest in the world — will operate alongside the company’s three other furnaces, and employs 50 permanent workers.
Speaking at the launch BHP Billiton SA executive chairman Xolani Mkhwanazi said that the R1bn furnace not only served as an indication of the company’s commitment to SA, but also the measures it took to align itself with government’s approach for more energy efficient beneficiation to take place.
The plant, the first of its kind to be built in SA over the past 20 years, uses a technology that recovers energy from gasses in a boiler and generates steam to turn a turbine that produces electricity, reducing the power demand of the operation.
This was expected to decrease the burden placed on Eskom to supply energy to the energy intensive industry of beneficiation by more than 20%, and over the next three years reduce its carbon emissions by 8%, the company said.
BHP Billiton SA, through its 60:40 partnership with Londonbased mining giant Anglo American in Samancor Manganese, produces 3.6-million tons from its Hotazel manganese mines in the Kalahari basin in Northern Cape.
Manganese, used in the steelmaking process, is one of the minerals identified as “strategic” by the government in its National Development Plan aimed at fostering higher growth in the economy.
Ms Shabangu lauded the unveiling as a step in the right direction, in meeting government’s beneficiation plans. “We have gone past a period where mining companies maximised their profits through exports. Beneficiation is not a new concept ... we cannot afford to be a country that continues to export its minerals without any value add.”