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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


SERGEANT, B.. Nationalization: an analysis of the competing interests of capital, labour, and government. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.1, pp.21-30. ISSN 2411-9717.

Any study of the contentious subject of nationalization can ultimately be reduced to a sombre analysis of the simultaneous, and very different, interests of capital, labour, and government. Each of these interests attempts to maximize its objectives, subject to checks and balances provided, in an ideal system, by a country's executive government, legislature, and judiciary. Where even one of the three interests goes out of control, the consequences can be disastrous. The case histories show that when this occurs, the most common culprit is government, or its proxy, such as a dictator. At the other extreme, the case studies indicate that the optimum outcome occurs when capital, labour, and government are 'ring fenced' from each other: each enjoys its rights, but is also subject to duties. 'Conflicts of interest' between the three entities are ideally avoided to the maximum possible extent. The case studies include several salient instances from both the DRC (Gécamines, La Générale des Carrières et des Mines) and Zambia, along with Ghana and Chile. Further instances are examined in South Africa (gold), India (Coal of India), Brazil (Petrobras), Venezuela (Petróleos de Venezuela), Sweden(Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag), Mauritania (Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière), Norway (Norsk Hydro), Botswana (Debswana), and Namibia (Namdeb). The article concludes broadly that South Africa's minerals sector is not ready for nationalization.

Keywords : nationalization; sustainability; capital; labour; government.

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