Cape Town – After months of digging for consensus, the Department of Mineral Resources told Parliament that it had reached an agreement with industry and social partners that the soon coming Mining Charter would serve as “secondary legislation” as opposed to a punitive law.
The department was briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources on Tuesday afternoon, saying that it canvassed the views of mining communities for the new version of the charter. The meeting followed the deaths of four miners at a mine owned by Sibanye- Stillwater [JSE:SGL] south of Johannesburg, with rescuers looking for a fifth miner.
The charter seeks to address the transformation of the mining sector and upliftment of mining communities while maintaining the stability of a sector which has seen declining profits for some years, in key areas.
The department said it met with 2 846 attendees at consultation meetings in 11 mining communities across all nine provinces.
Some of the demands raised in the consultation include ring-fenced procurement opportunities for mining communities as well as community and employee shareholding.
Communities raised issues such as community shareholding, incubation for community-based businesses supplying goods and services to mines and the empowerment of women and persons living with disabilities.
The department had a previous charter which was halted by court action brought by the mining industry through Chamber of Mines. The department embarked on a consultation process for a reviewed charter in March.
Mineral Resources Deputy Director General for mineral laws administration Ncamisile Mtshali told the committee that in April the department extended the consultation process to mine communities and areas from which mining labour originally hailed.
“The aim of the consultations was to solicit inputs and comments from mining communities as part of social partners. The minister, deputy minister, director general and senior officials attended all eleven consultations with mining communities,” said Mtshali.
Mtshali told the committee that 189 attendees attended consultation in Witbank, 473 in Lephalale, 103 in Burgerfort, 280 in Khathu, 440 in Rustenburg, 208 in Saldanha Bay, 238 in Klerksdorp, 184 in King Williams Town, 223 in Carltonville, 304 in Welkom and 204 in Newcastle.
Mtshali said Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe concluded the consultation process at the end of May. He said the department has started processing the inputs and would conclude the drafting and publishing of a new charter soon.
Asked if the charter would serve as a fully-fledged law or as a mining practice guideline, Director General Thabo Mokoena said the charter would serve as a form of “secondary” legislation.
“As for the legality of the charter there is a consensus. It is more of a secondary legislation. Government has a mandate of driving transformation and the partners in the economy is participating,” said Mokoena.
Committee chair Sahlulele Luzipho did not mince his words to the department regarding the Sibanye-Stillwater deaths, saying that for him it beggars belief that mine bosses and shareholders would be allowed to enjoy mining profits whilst workers risk their lives just to earn a living.
“I believe that we must agree that the deaths are rather serious and unacceptable. You can't have shareholders getting a profit at the cost of lives of workers. That is something we would need an intervention on,” said Luzipo.