Mantashe determined to end policy uncertainty with June charter deadline

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe says his department is on course to meet the June deadline to finalise the Mining Charter, calling it part of the “policy uncertainty” hindering business.

Speaking at the Chamber of Mines annual general meeting, Mantashe said he is encouraged by the consultation process his department has been conducting since he took office in February.

Deadline 'not impossible'

“We aim to finalise and gazette the Mining Charter in June. Some say the June deadline is impossible, but I say it can be done,” he said.

The controversial Mining Charter seeks to provide inclusive participation in the critical mining industry and empower black people.

Mantashe says he has so far visited nine communities across the country to hear their views on the charter and the mining industry.

“We must remove the regulation uncertainty and get on with the business of mining. If we finalise the charter we take away that policy uncertainty,” said Mantashe. 

"We have appealed to Parliament to proceed with speed to finalise this bill."

The controversial charter, which requires mining companies to extend 30% ownership to black companies, is currently being challenged by the Chamber of Mines.

A court ruling in April declared that the first two versions of the Mining Charter did not require mining companies to increase black ownership to 30% if they previously met the minimum 26% requirement.

“Transformation can only happen if the mining industry leads it. My vision is to see the mining industry become a leader in transformation by 2030,” he said.

Task force to fight zama-zamas?

Mantashe said fighting illegal mining is one of the key areas he has undertaken to address, calling the activity a “serious challenge and danger to society”.

The activity, which is robbing industry revenue, is flourishing in mining towns, with established syndicates illegally taking control of active and abandoned shafts.

Mantashe said his department is in favour of an establishment of a  special police unit to fight illegal mining, also known as zama-zamas.

He said he is in talks with the Police Minister Bheki Cele to discuss the possibility of setting up the unit.

Mantashe criticised companies for placing mines under care and maintenance, saying the practice contributes to the scourge of illegal mining.

"Putting people off work in large numbers while a mine is under care and maintenance is also a problem, people take it upon themselves to go underground to retrieve minerals," he said. 

In 2016 the Chamber of Mines estimated that illegal mining costs industry and the economy more than R20bn a year in lost sales, taxes and royalties.

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