THE labour unrest looming over South Africa’s mining sector will replace last year’s nationalisation fears as a major theme for discussion at the coming Mining Indaba in Cape Town, KPMG Africa head of energy and natural resources Carel Smit said on Thursday.

The Mining Indaba, which takes place from February 3-6, is one of the biggest annual events on the global mining calendar because it presents an opportunity for discussions, networking, forming partnerships and marketing services to the industry.

The event is now in its 20th year and, according to the organisers, about 7,800 delegates from more than 100 countries, representing 2,100 international companies, are expected to attend. About 40 formal African state delegations will participate.

Despite the downturn in commodities prices, which has squeezed profits, the organisers expect the number of delegates to be similar to last year’s.

Mr Smit said one of the negative consequences of the strikes called by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and its tension with the National Union of Mineworkers was that it influenced investor perceptions of mining in South Africa.

KPMG director of corporate tax Ben-Schoeman Geldenhuys said tax reform was another preoccupation for South African mining companies.

They were starting to collect data and submit comments to the Davis committee on tax reform, established by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last year.

Mr Smit said other topics likely to be discussed included low commodities prices; continuing concerns about infrastructure bottlenecks; and the need for a more collaborative approach among the government, labour, business and communities to address hurdles to industry growth.