Mining Charter: Govt 'very mindful' of investors, says Zwane

Mosebenzi Zwane. (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)
Mosebenzi Zwane. (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)

Johannesburg -  South Africa’s government is open to talks over the country’s much-criticised Mining Charter but the industry must do more to benefit the black majority, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said.

The mining industry, represented by the Chamber of Mines, has rejected the government’s new rules, saying extra levies and black-economic empowerment requirements threaten to curb the appeal of investing in projects. A judicial review of the legislation is scheduled to be held in December, in which Zwane must justify the new measures to a bench of judges.

The charter, which was published in the Government Gazette in June, is “a living document that’s the subject of the court,” Zwane said in a speech in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“As government and this department, our doors are always open to listen to the people of South Africa - business, labour, communities, investors. We are very mindful of the interest of investors in our country.”

Though he’s open to talks, Zwane said mining companies must not seek to do the job of government. “I listen, then I go back and produce legislation,” he said. “Don’t help me to produce legislation. You are not legislation producers, you are business people.”

Chief among the chamber’s concerns is a rule requiring mines to be 30% black-owned in perpetuity. That would lead to shareholder dilution because many companies already sold 26% stakes to black investors at preferential rates in the 2000s to comply with previous rules, believing it was a one-time deal, detractors say.

Other concerns include a 1% levy on revenue that must be paid black investors before other shareholder dividends, and increased local procurement targets.

“We recognise the contribution” that the industry has made to improving the lives of black South Africans after the country ended white-minority rule in 1994, Zwane said.

“Is it enough? I’m sure we’ll agree a lot more needs to be done.”

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