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'Government to blame for state of mining sector'

Wits University’s Lumkile Mondi says uncertainty on mining policy is harming the sector.

FILE: Mining operations at the Anglo American Bathopele Mine in Rustenburg, North West Province. Picture: AFP.

PRETORIA – Some economists have put the blame squarely on government for the significant contraction in the mining industry in 2016, saying uncertainty in the sector is scaring investors away.

Statistics South Africa released the growth domestic product estimates in Pretoria on Tuesday which showed mining decreased by 4.7% in 2016, but more than 11% for the fourth quarter of the year.

Overall, the latest numbers show that the South African economy grew by a meagre 0.3% last year.

Wits University’s Lumkile Mondi says uncertainty on mining policy is harming the sector.

“These policy challenges require leadership to really incentivise the mining sector to invest.”

Economist Iraj Abedian says growth opportunities have been lost as a result.

“Over the past two to three years, a lot of mining investments have been put on hold because the legislation has been toing and froing between Parliament and the president and so on. As long as that’s not clear, we can’t expect companies to invest.”

Government expects the economy to grow this year by about 1.3%.