Urban mining an opportunity for youth – Zwane

Youth have an opportunity to become new mine owners as global companies dumped assets due to the fall in commodity prices and rising costs, said Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Tuesday.


“The depressed global economic environment has created challenges in the mining sector… We have seen how this has led to some of the mining companies exiting the space. We believe that this is an opportunity for new mining giants to be created, and some of those may come from among the young people of our country,” he said.

Zwane said in a speech prepared for delivery at a Youth in Mining Summit in Johannesburg that urban mining presented numerous opportunities for young people to use urban waste to manufacture saleable products. And this was without necessarily having a higher education qualification.

He cited the glass bead manufacturing process an example of this. Mintek provided training in the crushing of glass bottle waste which was turned into beads used to make products such as household decoration items and costume jewellery.

Zwane said his department was committed to implementing policies that supported the growth and development of youth.

The mining sector was criticised at the gathering for being anti-youth.

Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said mining companies were ‘blocking the youth’ from entering their workforce. She said her de department was now working closely with Zwane on ‘transversal agreements’ to deal with youth unemployment deficit and to help ‘open doors’.

Zwane said that the economic empowerment of young people was not an option but rather a national imperative for economic growth.

“I am encouraged that you are taking an active part in changing your future, and the future of this sector, for generations to come.”

He said a programme which was initiated by his department had recently appointed 38 learner inspectors, of which 42% were women. This followed them completing a two-year programme which saw them get experience in occupational hygiene, surveying, mining, electrical and mechanical engineering.

The programme was in collaboration with the Mining Qualifications Authority, Sibanye Gold and AngloGold Ashanti.

He encouraged young people to make submissions on what they wanted to see changed in the Mining Charter. So far proposals include that a mining rights-holder must procure a minimum of 60% locally manufactured capital goods from BEE compliant manufacturing companies, and that rights-holders are be required to procure 70% of locally manufactured consumables and 80% services from such companies.

“We hope that yours will be among the submissions that the department has received, so that you are not only raising your concerns about the need for change in the mining sector, but providing possible solutions to how we can achieve our goal of meaningful transformation,” the minister said.


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