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'Mining sector needs to change its ways'

SA mining industry continues to use out-dated practices according to Kgalema Motlanthe.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Picture:Christa Van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Tuesday said South African mining houses were able to achieve super profits and compete on the global stage due to the mass exploitation of workers before 1994.

Motlanthe delivered the keynote address at the opening of the second annual Mining Lekgotla at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Motlanthe said the country's mining industry remained a prisoner of its apartheid past through ancient practices such as migrant labour.

"One of these undesirable practices that need immediate attention is the migrant labour system which continues to be a scar on the face of a democratic South Africa."

ANC MP Professor Ben Turok, who will discuss beneficiation at the Lekgotla, said mining companies are simply not doing enough.

"Mining companies must acknowledge that they have never seriously considered changing the migrant labour system."

The migrant labour system is one of the long term challenges identified in Motlanthe's mining sustainability agreement, but no action to address it has yet been taken.

Meanwhile, the mining industry remains unstable due to ongoing labour disputes.

Miners have embarked in several industrial actions over the past few months.

They are demanding better salaries and improved working conditions.

This had led to several mines cutting jobs.

Amplats plans to cut 6,900 jobs due to the unrest in the sector.

However, unions have threatened to strike as they say most miners are the breadwinners in their families.