Mining Charter keeps 30% black ownership target but ‘won’t create jobs’

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Gwede Mantashe. File Picture
Gwede Mantashe. File Picture

The new Mining Charter will require holders of mining rights to raise the level of black ownership to at least 30% from 26% within five years, Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.

The charter is part of an affirmative action drive that aims to reverse decades of black people’s exclusion from the mainstream economy under apartheid.

Agreeing a new version of the charter was crucial to securing investment in the mining industry in the world’s top platinum producer and bolstering President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to revitalise the economy.

The third version of the charter, which sets out required levels on black ownership and other targets for mining companies, was delayed for years amid wrangling with the industry in decline.

Mantashe, speaking to journalists, said least 20% of the 30% stake of black ownership would be in the hands of businesspeople with the other 10% being granted free to communities and qualifying employees.

The 30% target was widely expected as it had been in drafts of the third charter but investors and the industry were waiting for the final breakdown.

The Democratic Alliance’s James Lorimer said that although the new version of the Mining Charter contained some welcome proposals, it still amounted to a tightening of the rules governing investment.

“This charter stipulates a considerable tightening of requirements for affirmative action appointments to be demographically representative and for procurement to be restrictively local,” he said.

“In some cases, the procurement will be almost impossible to comply with, given that this is a highly technical area of expertise. These restrictions will make it harder to mine. Once again, this will make investing in South African mining, which supports 400 000 jobs, less attractive.”

Although Lorimer said that this charter was probably something established mines can live with, because it was “clearly better than what was originally proposed”.

But Lorimer said he doubted that it would create conditions for significant investment in the new mines that South Africa needs to be able to create jobs. – Additional reporting by Reuters

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