Scrapping the draft mining bill would be 'sensible' - Minerals Council

Withdrawing the Draft Bill to amend the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) would be sensible, says the Minerals Council South Africa.

The Minerals Council issued a statement in response to the briefing by the Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe in Parliament on Wednesday, when he said he was considering withdrawing the draft bill.

Mantashe updated the portfolio committee on mineral resources about the department’s state of affairs since he took the reins in February. He addressed a number of issues, including the status of the MPRDA Bill, which is with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for consideration.

According to Mantashe, the process has not moved for months as provinces are not in agreement on the bill.

"We had a meeting with the NCOP last week and there are just too many issues to sort out there," Mantashe said, according to a Bloomberg report. "They are stuck, and yet the mining sector is operating fine with the current legislation. So why change it?"

"On balance, the minister’s approach appears to be sensible given the underlying reasons for the current delays in finalising the bill," the Minerals Council said in a statement.

The Minerals Council said that even though there was intensive and useful engagement leading up to the drafting of the bill, there were a number of constitutional concerns which remained unresolved.

"Constitutional challenges, which were threatened by a range of interested parties, would have meant continuing uncertainty for the industry as these wound their way through the courts. 

"In the absence of resolving those concerns, withdrawal of the bill seems to be a more appropriate option," the Minerals Council said.

The amended bill was first passed by Parliament in 2015 and sent to former president Jacob Zuma for ratification. However, the president sent it back to Parliament in January 2015, having raised concerns that there was a lack of consultation with communities and that there was a possibility that beneficiation provisions in the bill contravened  international trade agreements, Fin24 reported previously.

The department recognised the need to remove policy uncertainty – and at the mining summit in July Mantashe announced public consultation on the draft Mining Charter would be extended until the end of August.

According to the department, once final comments are consolidated, the charter will be gazetted in November 2018.

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