Government should be careful in its interactions with the mining industry so as not to scare off investors, Gold Fields chairwoman Mamphela Ramphele said on Wednesday.
The academic and former anti-apartheid activist, who is rumoured to be starting a political party, seemed to criticise government during a question-and-answer session at the Mining Indaba 2013 in Cape Town.
Ramphele said continuous threats regarding mine licences and other key issues were "very scary" for investors.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe last month told reporters in Johannesburg mining companies that misrepresented their intentions could have their licences revoked.
He said at the time: "Are companies giving nice plans to government so that they get the licence and once approved [they forget about it]?
"If you misrepresent what your intentions are when you submit a plan, all parties have a right to revoke the licence."
Ramphele said there was no need for heavy state intervention.
She referred to proposals in the draft Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, such as the limitation of share trading in listed companies.
"Why is that necessary? It [government] does not have to flex its muscles in that way... It's not necessary to have this kind of noise in the system."
She said the state should rather focus its energy on proper housing and remuneration for mineworkers.
Replying to a question about whether it was true she was starting her own political party, Ramphele said she had spoken in her keynote address about "short-term" thinking.
"You must wait patiently," she responded, to laughs and applause from delegates.
At the end of last month, the academic released a statement saying she had been in conversation with citizens from all walks of life about the state of democracy in the country.
"These conversations are in line with the national dialogue I am seeking to promote through my latest book, Conversations with my Sons and Daughters," she said at the time.
According to a recent Rapport newspaper article, while on a recent visit to America, Ramphele said she was collecting money for a political party and was "entering politics to save her country". She also rallied support from ambassadors.
DA leader Helen Zille tried to get Ramphele to join her party last year, but she declined and formed the Citizens' Movement, a non-governmental organisation.