The Chamber of Mines on Tuesday spelled out the billions of rands spent on direct funding for university students by mining companies — in addition to the taxes and levies they paid to government and a tough economic climate.
This was in response to a memorandum presented to the chamber by the South African Union of Students (SAUS) mid-October.
Mining companies provide bursaries and scholarships‚ support teaching and administrative costs‚ and sponsor students at tertiary educational institutions across the country.
The industry is also improving primary and secondary education at thousands of schools‚ and also provides much-needed bridging support to enable students to access higher education‚ chief executive Roger Baxter said.
In 2015 the industry continued to contribute to the 1% skills development levy and paid in excess of R1 billion to the skills levy and spent a further 5% of payroll‚ which equates to more than R5 billion‚ on skills development‚ per annum‚ as required by the Mining Charter‚ he said.
Apart from this‚ the mining industry paid R11.3 billion in taxes and royalties‚ and contributed to the socio-economic development of various communities through a variety of Social and Labour Plan projects in order to fulfil its Mining Charter obligations.
On higher education‚ in 2015 alone‚ the Chamber and its members invested in the training and development of more than 6‚000 students at tertiary institutions‚ Baxter said. This training and development included bursaries‚ workplace experience for graduate students and internships for tertiary education graduates. In addition‚ the mining sector provided scholarships for the children of their own employees ranging from primary school to tertiary education.
“The mining sector has also invested substantially into the resources‚ infrastructure and development of personnel at higher education institutions.”
Over five years‚ Baxter said Chamber members have supported around 12‚500 students by providing them full bursaries to study at various tertiary institutions.
During the same time period‚ 5‚500 students and graduates participated in mining industry workplace experiential learning programmes and were provided with learnerships and internships in workplaces.
“In total 18‚000 students have been supported over a five-year period at a cost of more than R1.6 billion.
“About R180 million of this amount was spent in supporting lecturers in the mining engineering related faculties at universities. Without these funds‚ many lecturing positions would not exist and the universities would not be able to attract the appropriate skills.”
Baxter further noted that the Chamber and its members have funded the building of a number of faculties at various
universities‚ and have made contributions to extensions‚ maintenance and the purchase of basic equipment.
In the next five years‚ the mining sector intends to train and develop a further 24‚000 learners “by providing full bursaries and affording tertiary education graduates opportunities for internships and much needed workplace experience”.
“From a context perspective‚ it is also important to reflect on the economics of South Africa’s mining sector. Between 1990 and 2015‚ the mining sector’s real GDP shrank by 2.9%. This compares to the 168% growth rate in the real GDP of the financial services sector. In 1993 the mining sector accounted for 14.7% of GDP directly.
In 2015 this share had declined to 7.7%. In 2014 and 2015 the mining sector was the only sector in the entire economy to be loss-making‚ reporting losses of R10 billion in 2014 and R37 billion in 2015.
Notwithstanding these economic and financial pressures‚ the mining industry is doing its best to sustain its support of tertiary education in South Africa. Attempting to place any further burden on the sector would be very difficult in this challenging economic environment.”