ROGER Baxter, CEO of the Minerals Council South Africa, is due to step down from the organisation in April. It brings to end nine years in the role.
Styled as the conscience of the industry, Baxter has tirelessly fought the corner for the country’s mining sector frequently ending up at loggerheads with Government.
Most recently, he laid into Transnet for rail and port failures that he likened to the unacknowledged crisis of the country comparable with Eskom’s loadshedding. Ironically, he has also been criticised for not saying enough on occasion.
One occasion in which Baxter spoke decisively was to call out former mines minister for corruption. He later boycotted the Joburg Indaba conference in 2017 when it was hosting Zwane. In a demonstration of the fine lines the council treads, Baxter’s boycott was subsequently questioned by convener Bernard Swanepoel who described it as a failure to ‘engage’ with issues of the day.
Zwane was this month arrested in connection with alleged fraud and corruption linked to the controversial dairy farm project in Vrede, in the Free State, involving public funds meant to develop emerging black farmers.
Commenting on his decision to resign, Baxter acknowledged the council’s office bearers who are appointed from the private sector, saying they had helped steer the organisation through “a remarkable period of change”.
The council was previously known as the Chamber of Mines. Located in downtown Johannesburg, it was viewed as stuffy and ill equipped to lead the sector. This led to its rebranding, improved staffing, new strategy of market visibility and its relocation to Rosebank. The council has consequently become increasingly vocal on sector ills.
Nolitha Fakude, head of Anglo American SA, and the council’s president, said Baxter was “deeply respected” and that he had “helped shape a better outcome for the Minerals Council, the mining sector and economy. His ‘Frank’ engagement style and ability to drive the mandate and agenda of the Minerals Council and business make him a credible and reliable partner to work with”.
The Minerals Council said it had embarked on a process to appoint a CEO designate “who will support Roger through to the conclusion of his contract”.