Groundwork is currently being done to ensure that the aggregate and sand producing industry remains profitable and sustainable amidst a period of low growth caused by mounting economic pressures.
Speaking at the international Global Aggregates Information Network (GAIN) meeting in Cape Town recently, Gert Coffee, chairman of the Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa (Aspasa), said that the association is actively involved in supporting the local industry and creating a fair, balanced environment in which its members can operate.
Coffee says that the association represents 35 member companies operating approximately 117 quarries which accounts for 75% of the aggregates crushed in South African quarries. It acts decisively on behalf of its members to capitalise on opportunities or defend the industry in the event of circumstances which negatively influence it.
During the past year the association has also been involved in a number of interventions where it believed its members’ rights were unfairly infringed. These included winning the rights for its members to continue claiming diesel rebates for off-road vehicles and equipment, as well as arguing that the industry be exempted from paying royalties. It is feared that the payment of royalties will hamstring legal quarry operators, while simultaneously increasing the price of aggregates and putting further stress on the construction industry.
While the past few years have been challenging for the industry, the association has continued to play an important role and stepped up its service offering in order to ensure the long term sustainability of the industry. Its services currently include challenging legislation that is deemed to undermine fair and profitable practices, addressing technical issues, as well as playing a regulatory and guiding role for the industry.
“In order to stay abreast of happening we are also represented on various committees where our input has a direct bearing on the industry. These include the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) committee looking at the new COTO specifications for road building where we have put forward various exclusion clauses for the construction industry to take note of. We are also active on committees to kerb illegal mining, as well as representing the industry at Exco level on the Chamber of Mines, the Mine Health and Safety Council, as well as the Mining Regulatory Advisory Committee (MRAC) where the association’s director, Nico Pienaar, is the chairperson of the Human Resources Committee.
“Aspasa is in regular contact with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) regarding the issue of Section 54’s closures, the Mining Charter and many more issues. We also remain in discussion with NOSA to develop a system to accredit contractors on site, the Chief Inspector of Mines to explain the role of Aspasa in regards to Health & Safety, the Mine Health and Safety Council Ministerial Advisory Committee, as well as meetings with the Department of Transport against banning heavy vehicles between certain times of the day in Gauteng.
In closing Coffee said that these are just a few of the initiatives that the association is involved in to smooth the way for the industry. “The expectation is that there will be very little if any growth in sales of aggregate and sand in South Africa this year, so we need to work smarter and ensure that the aggregates supplied to the market place are of the highest possible standard and are quarried in a safe and sustainable manner.”
Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, Tel: (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email: email@example.com, Web: www.aspasa.co.za