SA to Wrap Up State Mining Asset Audit Early 2010

Source:

"[audit] will enable the State to decide whether to consolidate, retain or dispose of its interest in mining."

South Africa would complete an audit of the State's mining interests held directly or indirectly, by the first quarter of 2010, where after it would look at creating a State mining company, focusing on commodities such as coal and uranium, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Thursday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Africa Downunder conference, in Australia, she said that her department was given a mandate by the Cabinet to audit its mining assets.

Last month, Cabinet placed a moratorium on the disposal of mining assets to provide the Mineral Resources department time to finalize the audit, which will enable the State to decide whether to consolidate, retain or dispose of its interest in mining.

"After the audit and the rationalizing of our assets, we will take it forward," Shabangu told journalists.

Cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko said last month that a lot of South Africa's State mineral assets were owned without being registered on a central database.

Shabangu said that, should a State mining company be created, it would have to be competitive, and it would be run as a profitable business without needing funds from taxpayers. It would also focus on key commodities.

"When you look at globalization, we are attracting various interest groups to come and mine in South Africa, but it is very key that as a country we must position ourselves against any consequence. So, the issue of State having reserves in coal and uranium is very key, hence the issue of State mining assets will be more of a strategic nature, more than just a venture into a business interest," she explained.

South Africa already has the State-owned African Exploration Mining & Finance Corporation, which is pursuing coal and uranium opportunities.

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