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South Africa won’t nationalise mines: official

Published on 06/02/2012

South Africa's government sought to reassure investors as a major mining conference kicked off Monday that it has no plans to nationalise its mines despite the radical rhetoric of some in the ruling ANC.

“As we speak, nationalisation is not a policy of the government or ANC,” Godfrey Oliphant, deputy minister for mineral resources, told a round-table ahead of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, the largest mining industry gathering in the world.

“I can’t put my head on the block about nationalisation but we are definitely going ahead with the beneficiation policy. We want a model where everyone works together, the private sector, state-owned enterprises and government, that benefits all South Africans,” he said.

Oliphant’s remarks were published Monday on the web site of the weekly Mail & Gaurdian.

The government has been at pains to distance itself from radicals in the ANC who have been calling for the key platinum and gold producer’s mines to be nationalised and profits redirected to the millions of blacks still living in poverty 18 years after the end of apartheid.

The ANC’s pro-nationalisation faction appeared to suffer a setback last week with the drafting of a report that party insiders say rejects nationalisation and instead proposes higher taxes as a means to spread the country’s underground wealth more equally.

Oliphant backed the view that South Africa needs to tax miners more aggressively.

“We’re still not realising the considerable potential presented by our comparative advantage in minerals,” he said.

“Investors need to realise that they can’t just come here and grab and go. The industry has not been committed to beneficiation over the years. That is going to change. There will be new rules.”

The Democratic Alliance, the chief opposition party, warned Sunday that increasing taxes could cause job losses and scare off investors.