SA officially launches De Beers underground mining project

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The South African Government is investing in strengthening the mining sector, which is set for growth, so that it can contribute to inclusive growth, says President Jacob Zuma.

“As government we are investing time and effort in strengthening the mining sector so that it can contribute to inclusive growth and jobs as envisaged in the National Development Plan,” said Zuma.

Zuma was speaking in Musina, Limpopo, where he launched the construction phase of the De Beers Venetia Underground Mine.

The project is a R20 billion investment in the diamond industry, which is the biggest single investment in the diamond industry in decades, and demonstrates confidence in the country’s diamond industry and mining sector.

“Our mining industry is definitely poised for growth, especially if we continue working together to promote the industry in various ways.

“This R20 billion investment in the diamond industry signals that indeed our mining sector is poised for growth, and that it has a bright future,” explained Zuma.

The investment, he said, will boost diamond production of which South Africa has lost its eminence in recent years.

“This project is also significant because it demonstrates confidence in South Africa as an investment destination of choice by both foreign and South African companies.”

While the operation employs more than 2 500 people, 500 more jobs will be created during the peak of the construction phase.

However, there needs to be a right environment for growth including the implementation of transformation measures and the promotion of labour market stability in the sector.

“We are encouraged by the positive response of business and labour to government’s intervention to bring about labour peace and stability, a project led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,” said Zuma.

At the same time, Zuma condemned isolated incidents of violence in the sector.

“While there is relative peace, we condemn the isolated incidents of violence such as the killing of a National Union of Mineworkers branch leader in Rustenburg last week. Such incidents have no place in a democratic society like ours.”

There is also work to be done in transforming as well as improving the lives of workers in the sector.

“Fortunately, investors in the mining industry are aware that they should, in terms of the law, redress past imbalances in the industry.”

In terms of the Mining Charter, mining companies are required to improve housing and living conditions of workers. Companies are also expected to facilitate home ownership by 2014.

“It is necessary to create such living conditions to ensure the dignity of workers who produce such precious metals that keep our economy strong and vibrant,” he said

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