Last week, this magazine spoke of the need to protect the mining industry from distracted or venal politicians. Unfortunately, as the Mining Indaba kicked off, minister Mosebenzi Zwane only reinforced this danger. Zwane’s keynote speech was remarkable in that he provided both a starkly bland and unenterprising vision of the future of mining while also somehow managing to wave his fists at the mining companies. Scarily, he said the new mining charter would be published next month to embody government’s new plan of “radical economic transformation” — whether the industry agrees with it or not. Zwane, however, is clearly insecure, describing the views of Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani as “out of order”. But Cutifani was simply echoing the views of many when he told the indaba that those who invoke “false and misleading images of the industry today, one really has to ask what their personal motives are”. Not acknowledging progress “seems intellectually dishonest”. Afterwards, Zwane fu...

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