Cape Town — No decision had been taken by the government on whether or not to apply an export levy to coal, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said on Wednesday.
Responding to questions at the 2013 SA Coal Exports Conference at the Westin Grand Hotel in Cape Town, Shabangu said it was important that local coal supply is ensured, but stressed that a decision on whether to apply a levy on coal had not been taken.
She said the proposal to declare certain minerals as strategic assets had been included in amendments to the Minerals & Petroleum Resources Development Act, which was released last month for public comment.
However, she said even though government is keen that certain minerals such as coal should be declared as strategic assets, it remained important for the private sector players to work together to ensure the industry's future.
Addressing the conference, Shabangu said the emergence of an export market for lower grade coal was a challenge for Eskom, as it put a strain on the availability of coal to the electricity utility.
A coal resource study by the Council for Geoscience report would be released soon, detailing how the country can better plan for future coal needs, she said.
On the challenges that face the coal industry, Shabangu said coal remained an important component in the country's future energy mix.
Government viewed the industry as one that could contribute meaningfully to a successful and inclusive South Africa, she said, pointing out that the R87.8 billion in earnings generated by the sale of 252.8 tons of coal in 2011, accounted for 24% of total mining sales in that year.
She said last year was a difficult one for the mining industry and posed a challenge to the industry on how it could become a more inclusive one for workers.
The government's role, however, is to achieve a balance between the benefits mining has for the industry and that which it has for ordinary South Africans, she said.
The procurement of coal needed to be widened as presently coal sales were dominated by a few large players.
Her department would work together with the Department of Public Enterprises to ensure that more black-owned suppliers took part in the coal industry.
Shabangu said the question of nationalisation had been put to rest, once again by the ANC's elective conference at Mangaung last month. "We are not going to nationalise any assets," she said.