Parliament, Wednesday, 10 July 2019 – The Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy has urged the department to take account of the content of the briefing document before it makes a presentation to the committee. The department should not duplicate what happens in the National Assembly as the presentation then becomes irrelevant in terms of the mandate of the National Council of Provinces.

The committee was briefed by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on its annual performance plan and budget for 2019/20. Ms Bavelile Hlongwa, Deputy Minister for the department, said the department is in the process of merging two departments into one, which will be completed in March 2020. Currently, the department has two director-generals.

Responding to a concern raised by the committee, Ms Hlongwa said the department will look into the mandate of the select committee and respond accordingly.

The committee noted with concern the size of the department’s budget for safety and health in mines, considering the ongoing mine fatalities. The size of the allocation gives the impression that the department does not take mine safety seriously.

The committee expressed concern about how the department will conduct oversight over safety in mines, as the amendment of the Mine Safety Act is still pending. Committee Chairperson Ms Tebogo Modise said certain standards should be met when it comes to safety oversight in mines.

In addition, Ms Modise said today’s presentation reports a reduction in departmental staff set down for 2020 and in budget. “This is a cause for concern, how will the department reach its set targets?” said Ms Modise. Moreover, the reduction of the budget will hamper job creation, which is a priority raised by the president in the State of the Nation Address. The closing of mining shafts is another contributor towards job losses, in particular in Rustenburg and Klerksdorp.

The committee also raised the issue of Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, where the community is divided about mining in the area. The committee urged the department to do all it can to avoid the perception of bias on the matter. The committee also said mine exploration and mining should not take place in ecologically-sensitive areas.

Committee Chairperson Ms Tebogo Modise said: “My concern with the department is the issuing of mining licenses that give companies the right to mine in agricultural land. Where then will we farm agricultural produce?”

The department said it will conduct a survey among the Xolobeni community to gauge public opinion on the matter and will base its decision on the outcome of this survey.

The committee expressed concern about the lack of development in mining areas. The Kalgold mine in Ratlou local municipality in the North West, for example, has failed to improve the lives of the community.

The committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the lack of implementation in response to issues raised by mining town communities. In Rustenburg and Brits, for example, the department failed to implement the concerns and inputs raised during the public engagement process.

Committee members said their constituencies complain that companies employ people from outside the province and local residents are not prioritised for jobs. The committee is aware that people relocate to take up employment opportunities, nonetheless locals should not be overlooked and the department must take this into consideration.

The committee also said the department should indicate how it will establish cohesive relationships with other departments, like environmental affairs, to avoid disjuncture. The committee also called on the department to provide clarity on mine ownership in South Africa.


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