SA's bombshell Mining Charter halted for now

Cape Town - The implementation of the shock new Mining Charter, requiring local mines to be 30% black-owned, has been suspended, the Chamber of Mines announced on Friday.

The chamber, which represents 90% of the industry, applied for an urgent court interdict to stop the implementation of the charter.

Mining companies were given 12 months to comply with the new charter's objectives.

On Friday the Chamber of Mines indicated that Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane has given a written undertaking that he and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) won't implement or apply the provisions of the charter, pending judgment in the urgent interdict application brought by the chamber.

"The minister has furthermore undertaken that, in the event of any breach of the above undertaking, the chamber can set the urgent interdict application down for hearing on 48 hours’ notice to the minister."

The Mining Charter, published on June 15 2017, has been criticised because of a lack of consultation between the government and other stakeholders, including labour and the mining industry itself.

Key aspects of the Mining 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 must be black while 70% of all mining goods and 80% of all services in the mining industry must be procured from BEE entities.

New mining rights are subject to a 1% revenue payment to BEE shareholders prior to any shareholder distribution.

The Chamber of Mines has agreed to the DMR’s request for extra time to prepare its answering affidavit to the interdict application, and for the hearing to take place on a later date.

The hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, July 18 2017. The parties have asked the Deputy Judge President (DJP) of the High Court to allocate a hearing date in September 2017. This date is subject to allocation by the DJP, which is expected to occur by around the end of July.

Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter reiterated the chamber and the industry’s commitment to transformation. He stressed it is imperative that meaningful and lasting transformation be undertaken in a way that ensures the sustainability and growth of the industry.

The chamber’s application to have the DMR’s latest version of the Mining Charter reviewed in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Constitution will be lodged as soon as possible after judgment has been handed down in the chamber’s urgent interdict application.

Meanwhile, the chamber’s application for a Declaratory Order in respect of the recognition of prior BEE transactions under the original and 2010 charters has been re-enrolled by the DJP for hearing on November 9 and 10 2017. 

The DA said in a statement that it supports share schemes for miners when they are structured to benefit workers and are economically viable.

"However, the Mining Charter was not designed to benefit miners but instead to make cronies and insiders richer, as they open up new opportunities to get in on mining deals," said the DA's Alf Lees.

The party claimed that the Charter caused a R50bn market value loss in mining shares, adding that it is more likely to cost jobs than to create them.

"The ANC government would do well to take this opportunity to review the Charter and to present an effective plan that will attract investment, create jobs and benefit our people, not just the connected few," added Lees.

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