Chair, in Bolivia we witnessed the abject poverty experienced by mining communities surrounding the mining operations of the state-owned mining company, Comibol. It is dysfunctional and in a state of disrepair, with poor production figures of copper. No mention of these facts is made in the report.
We were, inter alia, shown one excavator, which appeared to be the sum total of its mining operations. In fact, all members of the portfolio committee agreed to shorten the trip to Bolivia due to the fact that it was clearly a model that no one wanted to follow and could not learn from.
In Chile, the CEO of the state-owned mining company, Codelco, Mr Diego Hernandez, in no uncertain terms indicated that he was in favour of privatising Codelco, should the Chilean parliament so decide. In fact, it was deliberately pointed out that the model followed by the Brazilian company, Vale, which, from being a small state-owned mining company, had developed into one of the largest mining companies in the world, after being privatised. This issue is not even referred to in the one-sided report serving before Parliament today, intended to show that state intervention is preferable - which it is not.
In South Africa we need look no further than Alexkor. In the previous financial year, government bailed out Alexkor to the amount of R350 million in order for it to emerge from its disastrous financial situation. Alexkor made another loss, of approximately R16,5 million, in the last financial year, and it is expected to do so for the next three years. The attempt by the Minister of Public Enterprises to appoint a new board amounts to no more than a reshuffling of chairs on the ill-fated Titanic.
The ANC government's preoccupation with the report entitled "State Intervention in the Mining Sector", the so-called Sims Report, adds fuel to fire. Strangely, the portfolio committee's conclusion is only being debated today, after the Sims report, which requests that more state involvement is required, was made public. What is required for a prosperous mining sector is less state intervention, less government regulation, more international investment and a stable political environment, with functional governance in all three spheres of government in order to avoid workers' unrest such as the unfortunate Marikana event.