Can't make everyone happy with Mining Charter - Zwane

Cape Town – The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is open to engaging with stakeholders on the Mining Charter, but this does not mean it will agree with everything, according to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

He was speaking during a question and answer session at the African Mining Indaba 2018 on Monday.

Zwane said that since the process of constructing the charter began in 2015, there has always been an “open door policy” for stakeholders to engage with the department.

“As we engage, it does not mean we will agree on everything,” Zwane said. He explained there will be instances where stakeholders and the department will differ on what the policy should say, but that it is possible to find mechanisms to reach resolutions.

He listed examples of how the department is willing to urgently intervene on matters brought before it, such as when the department approved a section 11 application for Lonmin last year. 

“In the two years that I have been in the department we have issued 30 mining rights. The record of the department speaks for itself,” he said. Zwane used this example to show the department is ready to work with people.

“There are a number of issues, whether we agree with a person or not, which need to be resolved," he said. “But there are areas where we will not compromise. These are the safety of workers in mines, the issue of transformation in the sector and attracting investment to South Africa.”

Zwane explained that once agreements are reached, the department will not go back on them.

At an early morning briefing ahead of the indaba, Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter said the way Zwane handled the charter has the potential to sink the industry.

As a result the industry has brought four legal challenges to oppose the charter, but Baxter said ultimately the chamber knows it will result in a negotiated outcome.

Asked if the DMR is willing to negotiate with the chamber instead of going forward with the court case, Zwane reiterated that the chamber is open to engagement. “We have not taken anybody to court,” he said.

“If there is an opportunity to go to a 'bosberaad' on the area we are talking about, why not?”

Zwane said it is difficult to make everyone happy. One side believes a 30% transformation target is too small, while the other side believes it is too big. “This is not the first mining charter, it’s the third mining charter. It’s not a new thing that came with Minister Zwane. It is a government issue,” he said.

He called on stakeholders to write to the DMR to raise their issues, and said there would be engagement to resolve the problems.

Minerals act a work in progress

Zwane would not answer a question about the progress of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA). He deferred this to Olifile Sefako, chair of the subcommittee on land and mineral resources for the National Council of Provinces.

Sefako said the MPRDA is still in negotiation stages and that to ensure the certainty and reliability in legislative frameworks, it must go through all the necessary processes.

The State of the National Address has to be delivered first, and the relevant premiers must deliver their State of the Province Address. Further, the budget votes also have to take place before the MPRDA process will be picked up again in March. 

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