Business Day

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

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