The South African Chamber of Commerce UK had the opportunity to address the Business Innovation and Skills Parliamentary Select Committee (BIS SC) on 4 March prior to the Committee’s trip to South Africa to investigate extractive sector industries. Since late 2013, the Select Committee has been conducting an official inquiry into these industries in the United Kingdom.
The Committee has been taking oral evidence on how the UK can contribute to the supply of the extractives sector, and is particularly interested in the demand for skilled labour in the sector and how the UK can engage with, and benefit from supplying the global industry in this respect. Chamber Board members Anglo American and Deloitte LLP presented alongside former SACC Chairperson Mary-Anne Anderson on key issues facing the South African extractive sector at present, and sought to contextualise recent developments in the industry.
In Johannesburg, the Committee met with a range of representatives from the oil, mining and gas industry, small and large NGOs as well as British and South African officials. The Committee also visited gold and coal-mining regions in other parts of the country. This included Bloemfontein and its surrounding areas, which hosts a number of suppliers to the industry.
Twenty-one mineral extraction (mining) companies listed on the London Stock Exchange have projects in South Africa. South Africa’s mining and utilities sector was worth approximately USD46.7bn in 2011, accounting for approximately 11.4 per cent of the country’s GDP that year.
The Committee was also eager to investigate South Africa’s efforts to place transparency in the industry at the top of the country’s concerns. It was hoped this would inform its inquiry about the conduct of UK listed companies on foreign soil, as well as the attitudes of, and impact on, the host economies.
The UK has also begun the process of becoming a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to bring greater transparency and accountability to the oil, gas and mining sector. The UK has taken the lead in pushing for more transparency in the sector, particularly in its role as chair of the Group of Eight industrialised countries. Despite South Africa not having signed up to this agreement, the South African Government is still committed to transparency through its participation in the Open Governance Partnership.