The Minerals Council launches its annual facts and figures pocket book at the Investing in African Mining Indaba each year. “Making mining matter” used to be the council’s slogan. Lately it has changed this to “Mining matters”. The latest facts and figures on the industry demonstrate just how important the sector is in SA’s economic life. The indaba highlighted again just how much more important it could be — if only SA could make it much easier and more attractive to invest in mining.

The thing about mining in SA is that relative to its size, it makes an outsize contribution to exports and to government revenues, especially in good times. And the thing about the commodities cycle is that even now, when times are not so good and prices of key export commodities such as platinum group metals and coal are well off their peaks, prices for gold and iron ore are still strong. If not for the continued power shortages and the collapse of freight rail and port services, SA could be e...

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