This has been a disastrous year for South Africa`s mining industry, particularly the platinum sector, which has been hurt by market conditions and strikes.
Although Susan Shabangu cannot be solely blamed for events beyond her control, there are some issues that fell directly within her sphere of influence that could have been handled far better.
One example is her department`s failure to flag the emergence of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) when it began mobilising miners in February during strikes at Impala Platinum. This contributed to the misjudging of the initial unrest at Marikana as nothing more than a labour matter. Instead, it quickly spiralled into a national crisis that made headlines around the world.
Her move to set up a task team to address the issues facing platinum mines before Marikana occurred has been criticised for failing to face the real problems head on, because to have done so would have been politically unpalatable. These problems include high labour costs and the flagging profitability of a number of unproductive shafts, which, analysts have warned, means that retrenchments are imminent.
Despite almost two years of promises to amend the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, changes have only recently been endorsed by the Cabinet for submission to Parliament. Change is critical to combat the administration of a mineral rights regime that is perceived as arbitrary, lengthy and corrupt. Combined with the policy uncertainty over the role of state intervention in the minerals sector that prevailed ahead of Mangaung, it has eroded investor confidence.
Shabangu has, however, continued to reassure investors that nationalisation will not happen.
The electronic mining rights application system, a necessary improvement, continues to experience teething problems.
Her department also tackled the controversial issue of fracking in the Karoo. It delivered a much-anticipated report that will hopefully inform the development of a well-regulated, properly administered industry.
Shabangu`s department also achieved an unqualified audit, but it continues to battle with recruiting and retaining technically qualified and experienced staff. The onerous task of rehabilitating ownerless and derelict mines continues to be a struggle and only two of a targeted 10 rehabilitations have been completed.