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He was addressing the second annual Mining Lekgotla on Tuesday.
“Negative perceptions about the country and the mining industry are being created and the challenge for us is to direct our collective efforts at minimising or even completely eliminating those perceptions,” he said.
A new wave of strikes looming over the gold and construction industries in South Africa has already bit into the rand currency’s value and could create instability in domestic and international gold markets.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Tuesday extended a deadline of a threatened new strike in gold mines to Friday. NUM workers are demanding a 60 per cent increase in wages for miners.
On Tuesday, the South African finance minister said that a significant portion of the government’s infrastructure plan is directed at the mining industry.
“However, government’s infrastructure plan addresses this challenge and we will see the impact within the next three to six months,” he said.
In the latest labour dispute, wage negotiations between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – which represents more than 60 per cent of the 140,000 gold workers – and their employer companies broke down despite appeals from South African President Jacob Zuma for peaceful wage negotiations.
Gordhan said on Tuesday that a “period of peace” is needed to reflect on “labour relations stability”.
“We would need to do exceptional things and would need exceptional leadership to turn around the current negative narrative that is characterising the mining industry. A new-generation partnership is needed and we need to ask ourselves what exceptional things we are going to do,” he said.
Gordhan urged that investor sentiment in the South African economy, particularly in mining, needs to be assuaged.
“We must collectively contribute to ensuring that those who want to invest and are investing in South Africa are reassured these are not serious risks they face, certainly not more than they would face anywhere else,” he said.
A new research report in July said South Africa’s investment sector has seen a sharp dip in confidence.
Sixty-seven per cent of private firms in South Africa are holding back investment decisions due to “uncertainty in the future political direction” of the country, revealed Grant Thornton’s International Business Report.
With inputs from Agencies