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Gwede Mantashe, mineral resources and energy minister, speaks on the opening day of the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town. Picture: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg
Gwede Mantashe, mineral resources and energy minister, speaks on the opening day of the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town. Picture: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg

Gwede Mantashe, SA’s sometime minister of mineral resources & energy, needs to urgently cut the red tape strangling mining.

About R100bn of potential investments languish in purgatory, precisely because of the breathtaking ineptitude of his department.

It was the most glaring omission in his keynote address to this week’s African Mining Indaba — that the department of mineral resources & energy (DMRE) is working on a new cadastre, or doing anything meaningful to tackle the backlog of mining and exploration licences.

Asked later in a Q&A session, Mantashe admitted there was no timeframe because “you can’t commit to a deadline for something that hasn’t started”. Mantashe can hardly be unaware of the opportunity cost his department’s dithering has inflicted on SA, whose public finances have been rescued thanks only to a recent commodities boom.

The DMRE’s failure to overhaul the regulatory regime is the reason why exploration spend in SA in 2020 was less than 1% of the global total. If he truly wants investment, he knows where to start. 

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