SA miners spent R5bn on social development programmes, says Minerals Council

Members of the mining community walk past the Doornkop Gold Mine, about 30km west of Johannesburg. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Members of the mining community walk past the Doornkop Gold Mine, about 30km west of Johannesburg. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Published Jun 20, 2024


THE Minerals Council of South Africa has said that mining companies in the country spent about R4.9 billion on social development programmes in 2023, in addition to tax and fiscal payments amounting to R135bn.

This comes after the Minerals Council in April said South African mineworkers were the highest-paid industrial workers in the country although labour unions disagreed with this.

Mining is a key economic activity for South Africa although there has been a fall in prices of some commodities such as coal and platinum group metals (PGMs), resulting in retrenchments, the closure of some shafts and a cut in investment for some projects.

Despite this, the Minerals Council said yesterday that its members made heavy investments in social and development projects last year.

About 12 member companies to the Minerals Council, drawn from the PGMs, gold, coal, diamonds and iron ore sub-sectors, contributed data to the research.

They spent a combined R4.9bn in social investment and development programmes during 2023 and also paid R135bn to the national fiscus through corporate taxes, PAYE, and mineral royalties.

Ten of the surveyed mining companies spent up to R965 million on enterprise development. Seven of these companies were supporting 2 646 enterprises established through their enterprise support programmes, said the Minerals Council.

Despite job losses and closure of some operations, up to 19 431 new jobs had been created in 2023 across the mining sector.

“Our members’ community investment projects and programmes are wide-ranging and diverse, with a primary focus on education and health-related interventions and public physical infrastructure such as roads, water and internet access,” said Tebello Chabana, senior executive for public affairs and transformation at the Minerals Council.

Despite data from the Minerals Council indicating that mining firms were investing in social and development programmes, some communities and environmentalists feel that mining firms were not doing enough.

This sentiment has resulted in protests against mining operations and companies while employees have always been demanding higher remuneration and a moratorium on retrenchments.

Mzila Mthenjane, CEO of the Minerals Council, said that in recent years mining companies in South Africa have been working on consultations with communities in respect of their needs and priorities to deliver more meaningful social investments.

“We have learned that one reason that companies’ plans on investments and projects have not always been appreciated or are not fully aligned with the needs of intended beneficiaries is inadequate and inadequately informed consultation,” Mthenjane said.

“It is in everyone’s interests to improve the quality of consultation.”

At a time when South Africa’s mining industry is floundering amid the closure of shafts and worsening job losses, the Bench Marks Foundation has called for the re-purposing of affected areas and communities to put them on a sustainable footing.

Making the situation worse was a dearth of investment into exploration activity across the South African mining industry.

This has been worrisome for the Minerals Council, especially with the country’s share of exploration expenditure remaining stubbornly below 1%, a fraction of what it was two decades ago when it was more than 5%.

According to the Bench Marks Foundation, it is the communities that are suffering the most from the ill fortunes of mine closures, retrenchments and suppressed commodity prices for some key and traditionally lucrative metals such as platinum.