Every February delegates to the Mining Indaba in Cape Town pack the auditorium on the first day to hear SA’s mineral resources minister deliver the keynote speech. This year they will be hoping for indications of decisive policy action to arrest the long-term decline in SA’s mining sector, specifically corruption, policy uncertainty and inefficiency. Although mining still contributes 8% of SA’s gross domestic product, the sector has declined dramatically since 1980, when it accounted for almost half of global mining by value. In the 2017 Fraser Institute report, SA’s investment attractiveness for mining companies was ranked 48th out of 91 countries. SA has unacceptable levels of unemployment and poverty. Illegal mining is a symptom of this poverty. The only way to fix these problems is through economic growth, in which mining investment and growth play key roles. Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has taken some positive steps since his appointment a year ago, such as scrappi...

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