Mining ignores its poor
As an alternative to the now highly commercialised Cape Town Mining Indaba, the Joburg Indaba presents at least a more debate-driven engagement around the state and future of the industry. However, when studying the programme of the Joburg Indaba as published in Business Day on September 27, it is clear that the industry has still not come to terms with potentially its biggest blind spot — the disadvantaged stakeholders who work within it and live around its operations.
The chairs and panellists of the various sessions are renowned for their roles in the industry — direct or indirect — yet many if not all have for the past decade been comfortable to conveniently overlook or superficially address the development of those directly related to or affected by the mining operations.
Most likely there will be some serious debate around the black ownership of mining companies when the indaba gets under way, but as has been shown, this ownership issue has done little for the underdeveloped communities and employee groups related to the industry. Why then would the industry not revolutionise itself at a time like this, when radical economic transformation is the new freedom song, by focusing its programme on how to change the face of the industry towards a “for the benefit of all” approach?
It seems an obviously missed opportunity, perhaps caused by the exclusive narrative that has plagued the industry for so long. For those who have seen and experienced the desperation of the forgotten, it is clear that mining’s Arab Spring cannot be too far off.
Deon Crafford Pretoria