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South Africa's government is committed to build a thriving mining industry, Mines Minister Susan Shabangu said on Tuesday in the wake of deadly wildcat strikes, profit plunges and planned layoffs.
"We stand ready to work with all of you to ensure that we build a mining industry that is resurgent, resilient and is able to function successfully to its full realisable potential," Shabangu told thousands of delegates at an African mining conference.
Her assurances come in the wake of last year's Marikana police shooting, which sparked industry-wide mining strikes, and recent strong reaction to restructuring plans by mining giant Anglo American Platinum.
Shabangu said South Africa was a stable democracy and that the "government is committed to create a thriving, successful mining industry".
She said: "May I invite you to walk with us on this journey of partnership to build a mining industry of the future which will give practical meaning to our assertion that Africa's time has come."
The legacy of white minority rule under apartheid contributed to the Marikana tragedy, in which police shot 34 protesters dead in one day, she said.
Authorities and industry had to partner for a lasting solution to underlying issues of racial inequality, she added.
"The country and the industry cannot afford the prospect of another Marikana."
South Africa's mining industry had grown from 993 mines in 2004 to almost 1,600 mines today. Revenues had increased to 370 billion rand ($41 billion, 31 billion euro) by 2011, she said.
"We will continue to ensure that an enabling environment is created, while at the same time developing an environment that is responsive to the changing global economic environment and the dynamism of the contemporary mining industry," she said.
Shabangu also shot down any uncertainty on nationalisation, which had long caused industry jitters, saying that the ruling African National Congress had dropped the idea at a key December meeting.
"Don't come to me and ask about nationalisation," she told the Investing in African Mining Indaba.
"It's neither a policy of this government nor of my party, so it has nothing to do with the ruling party of now."