The CEO of multinational mining company Anglo American, Duncan Wanblad, expressed concerns over the stifling business environment in South Africa (SA), pointing out the country’s missed potential due to lack of incentives for mining exploration.
During his address at the Joburg Indaba mining conference, Wanblad emphasized that SA’s undiscovered potential remains hampered by factors like load-shedding and logistics issues. Such challenges impact “the profitability and sustainability” of businesses, leading to heightened frustration among industry stakeholders and investors.
He remarked that SA’s challenges have caused both domestic and foreign companies to reconsider potential investments. Wanblad added that the nation is “definitely under explored”, largely because Anglo American has shifted its exploration priorities to “areas most prospective for commodities being sought”.
For SA to encourage exploration, it needs to establish an environment that welcomes multiyear investments. Companies must be certain about resource security and ownership levels to invest significant time and resources.
Furthermore, SA’s contribution to global exploration spending has plunged from 5% in 2003 to less than 1% and has stagnated below this mark for over a decade.
Other mining leaders, including Errol Smart (CEO of Orion Minerals) and Mzila Mthenjane (CEO of the Minerals Council of SA), shared similar sentiments. They highlighted the undue administrative burden on exploration companies, stemming from the country’s regulatory landscape. The outdated SA Mineral Resources Administration System (Samrad) exacerbates these issues, resulting in a massive backlog of unprocessed licenses.
In response, Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources & energy, mentioned that the department has chosen a bidder to provide “a modern cadastral system”. The announcement of the winning bidder is anticipated by the end of October, pending audit approval.