Johannesburg – The only way forward to deal with the controversial Mining Charter is to reopen negotiations between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Chamber of Mines, said ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday.
Speaking at mining discussion event the Joburg Indaba, Mkhize stressed the importance of engagement between government, business and labour to solve the country’s problems.
Mkhize said the ANC had engaged with the Chamber to help resolve problems that have arisen as a result of "miscommunication" with the government. These engagements have tried to find ways to rebuild the industry and build confidence around it, while resolving challenges to ensure it grows.
These consultations have also revealed the tensions between the Chamber and the DMR with regard to the controversial charter, he said.
The Chamber of Mines has argued that the charter will deter investment in the industry, and has said there was not enough consultation between government and the private sector before it was drawn up.
The implementation of the charter has been halted, ahead of a court case set to start in mid-December.
“We actually appealed to the ministry to sit down [with the Chamber] on the mining charter to negotiate issues. These issues are now in court,” said Mkhize on Wednesday.
Mkhize said the best outcome would be to reopened negotiations: “It is better to get a decision to live with together, rather than subject everything to courts than finding a way to take ourselves forward.”
Scrap the Charter
DA leader Mmusi Maimane, who also delivered an address at the Indaba, proposed that the Mining Charter and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) be “ripped out”.
Maimane said the two documents should be 'rewritten for a modern and investor-friendly sector".
He said that mining legislation should include a clause to ensure that those who are once empowered are always empowered.
Maimane also said making the mining sector more inclusive was not a matter of simply replacing “white mining tycoons” with “black mining tycoons”.
Rather, the industry as a whole had to become more competitive.
To achieve this there should be more regulatory certainty, he said. “The interpretation of rules should not be dependent on the goodwill of a government official.”
Maimane also said that lower taxation could incentivise the creation of mining jobs, by stimulating new entrants and investments.
The challenges of mechanisation must also be faced, said Maimane. “Mining requires modernisation. We can’t mine as we used to in the past.”
Instead of mines “plugging holes” in society by building schools and houses, Maimane said mine corporate social investments funds should be directed to independently managed trusts, and then allocated to projects that benefit the communities living near mines.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.