Govt, mining industry must together resolve charter impasse - Oliphant

Cape Town – Government and the mining industry can work together to reach a solution over the reviewed Mining Charter, said Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant.

Oliphant on Thursday delivered the closing address at the 2018 African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

He said the country's mining industry remains a cornerstone of the South African economy, and that SA would be mining for the next 100 years.

The deputy minister also said it is important to redress the legacies of the past by making it possible for black people to participate meaningfully in the South African economy.

Transforming the mining sector is not an event, but a process, he said.

“We are going to find a way to deal with these matters together as leadership of government, industry and civil society,” he said of the Mining Charter, which has been suspended pending a legal review. 

“We recognise we have a dispute in the courts. We said we respect the rights of mining industry to have taken the department to court.”

Oliphant said the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) also had the right to defend what it is doing. While the DMR will respect the outcome of the court process, Oliphant urged the leaders to keep talking to each other. “Government leaders must talk to the Chamber of Mines on issues we disagree on.”

An application brought by the Chamber of Mines to review the charter is expected to be heard between February 19 and 21 this year. 

Oliphant said that while some SA mining companies did well in “ticking the right boxes” when it came to transformation goals, others were still lagging behind. 

While the Chamber has always said it has done its best, it has also shielded the “bad guys”, he argued. 

When it comes to black ownership of the mining industry, Oliphant said there’s still a long way to go, especially for companies on the JSE.  He said that many BEE partners had in fact been liquidated because of their debt.

Resistance 

Oliphant argued said there had always been resistance to the Charter. In 2002, for example, the DMR went on a roadshow to convince investors of the importance of addressing exclusion in the country.

But he also admitted that one of the areas the DMR could have done better was its consultation.

The Chamber this week criticised Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s leadership, with its CEO Roger Baxter saying that engagements with the DMR had been done in bad faith.

Chamber president Mxolisi Mgojo, meanwhile, had called for “ethical leadership”.

“We need ethical people around the table, people who have general interests in the industry and what is good for the country. Only then will we have a genuine conversation,” he said.

On Wednesday the Chamber met with chairs of various Parliamentary committees, including head of the portfolio committee of mineral resources Sahlulele Luzipo, the standing committee of finance's Yunus Carrim and portfolio committee on trade and industry chair Joanmariae Fubbs for a briefing on the Charter.

Luzipo committed to facilitating an inclusive engagement between stakeholders, according to a statement from Parliament.  

“The tension and trust deficit between the DMR and the Chamber only helps to precipitate instability within the mining sector. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the two parties not to resort to resolving issues through courts,” said Luzipo. 

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