August 2, 2010
By Wiseman Khuzwayo
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Threats by the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) to nationalise the mines were ignored by the markets on Friday, the day the organisation released its discussion document for debate at the national general council of its parent body in September.
The resources sector on the JSE closed at 48 363 points on Friday, down 0.89 percent, while the all share index fell 0.68 percent to 28 355.21 points, showing that mining shares moved in line with the rest of the market.
The rand strengthened against the dollar, gaining 0.4 percent to R7.30 a dollar.
Analysts were also unmoved by the proposals in the discussion document.
The ANCYL proposes the establishment of a state-owned mining company, which it said should 'assemble and consolidate all state interests, resources and capacity into a single entity, which will extract and trade minerals on behalf of the state'.
The organisation proposes the enactment of exploration legislation which 'will clearly define the state's public interest exploration model and practice with or without compensation'.
It also says that the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act should be amended to include a clause that compels all mining companies to partner with the state, with the state-owned mining company holding a minimum shareholding of 60 percent.
In its motivation for the nationalisation of the mines, the ANCYL says this will increase the fiscal capacity for developmental purposes, particularly the funding of education, health care, housing, and infrastructure development.
However, if cool heads prevail, the ANCYL's proposals are unlikely to gain too much traction at the council itself.
Nazmeera Moola, a director at Macquarie First South, said that in the past six years, the mining sector had contributed an average of around 10 percent of South Africa's tax revenue. Investments in the sector account for at least 15 percent of all pension fund assets.
'Therefore as a first step, the proposed nationalisation would reduce government revenue by at least 6 percent (60 percent of the 10 percent of revenues) and erode the pension benefits of civil servants, mineworkers and other savers by 15 percent. This makes no sense,' she said.
She said the idea was that publicly owned mining companies would contribute more to government revenues, but pointed out that the performance of state-owned companies in the past 10 years was testimony to the fact that the public sector was not 'terribly good at running profitable, self-funding enterprises'.
Diana Games, the chief executive of Africa At Work, a business analysis company, said it was not clear whether the proposed nationalisation would apply to existing mining companies or only new ones. - Wiseman Khuzwayo