tito allays fears
LOCAL mines will not be nationalised - despite "noises" from some politicians, says Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni.
Some politicians have repeatedly called for the government to take over ownership of the country's mines, a move that could scare off investors.
The government has so far downplayed the demands but has also still allowed debate on the issue.
Speaking on Saturday in Phokeng in North West, the heart of South Africa's platinum mining region, Mboweni said the talk was not likely to lead to anything.
"I don't think that argument is going to gain traction," he said.
Mboweni, who leaves his post next month, said the government had only recently taken over mining rights from companies, and would not want to start another "difficult process".
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema last week repeated a demand for the nationalisation of mines.
"We seek to implement the ANC's Freedom Charter and it says mineral resources must be owned by the people," Malema said on Friday.
Stanlib economist Kevin Lings said yesterday that nationalising anything, whether it was the mines, banks or any large private business, would hurt much-needed offshore and local investment.
Ling said other big businesses would also be nervous about expansion if it would possibly lead to their being nationalised.
"The people who have been operating mines for decades are struggling, so the government would struggle to make mines profitable," Ling said.
SA is the world's biggest producer of platinum and one of the top producers of gold, though the influence of mining on the GDP has declined, particularly as gold reserves become exhausted.
Some mines have been forced to shut down, resulting in significant job losses and leading to anger among trade union allies.