New mines minister Gwede Mantashe wants to finalise Mining Charter

Pretoria - Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday said finalising the reviewed Mining Charter was one of his key priorities.

He announced he has had a “frank dialogue” with industry players to hear their concerns over the controversial new regulations.

Mantashe took over the mining portfolio last month, replacing Mosebenzi Zwane who introduced the controversial regulations last year.

He said his meetings with business, unions and members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources was aimed at addressing key issues relating to the growth and competitiveness of the mining sector.

“The meeting, which was robust and open, recognised that there was a lack of consultation between the ministry and the partners in the past, said Mantashe.

Mantashe said one of main priorities in his new job was to ensure policy certainty and improve investor confidence.

Investors have raised concern over the reviewed Mining Charter, which seeks to reform the ownership of the industry and allow increased participation of black South Africans in the sector.

“Transformation means the ownership, control, management and meaningful participation by the black majority in the industry,” he said.

Key aspects of the charter include an increase in black economic empowerment shareholding of all mines from a previous 26% to 30%. 

In addition, 50% of all board members and executive management at mines must be black, while 70% of all mining goods and 80% of all services in the mining industry must be procured from BEE entities.

Task teams 

Mantashe announced that two task teams aimed at addressing disagreements around the Mining Charter had been formed, following his meeting with industry stakeholders.

The committees would report back to the ministry in three weeks.

Last month a judicial review of the Mining Charter was put on hold as the Chamber of Mines, which represents the majority (90%) of the mining industry, and government agreed to more dialogue over the charter.

Although the code has caused uncertainty among business, President Cyril Ramaphosa has come out in its support, saying it would benefit the industry as a whole.

Mantashe said on Tuesday that he had also taken note of the operational challenges at the troubled Gupta-owned Tegeta mines, Koornfontein, Shiva, Brakfontein  and Optimum.

The mines, which supply power utility Eskom with coal, are facing financial challenges. Some operations have been struggling to pay workers, while Optimum has applied for business rescue.

Koornfontein supplies coal to Komati power station‚ Optimum supplies coal to Hendrina power station and Brakfontein supplies coal to Majuba power station.

Mantashe said business rescue practitioners had indicated that the mines were “still good assets, which can be viably mined by another operator”.

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