Mantashe hints at revoking Sibanye's mining rights as strike drags on

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Picture: Raymond Morare

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe has suggested his department could look to revoke Sibanye-Stillwater’s mining rights at its gold mines as a strike marks its tenth week with no sign of a settlement in sight.

Following the Minister’s budget vote speech on Thursday, he addressed comments made by members of Parliament about the impasse between labour and the mining company.

"I listened to the comments by Neal [Froneman, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO] that he has the money to [withstand] the strike for years.

"In other words, the message is sending to us is that he is not ready to actually mine gold. He has enough money to fight a strike and stop production for years," Mantashe said.

"That actually sent us a message that says the department’s relevant officials [should] look into the possibility of the application of Section 47 for a mine that doesn’t want to mine but sits on the properties, so that we can give that property to companies that want to mine gold."

Sibanye-Stillwater was unable to respond to the minister’s comments immediately.

Section 47 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act gives the minister power to suspend or cancel rights, permits or permissions in certain circumstances.

These are: when a mining company contravenes the act, breaches the conditions of its permit, contravenes its environmental management programme or submits inaccurate or misleading information in connection with matters that are required to be submitted by law.

The strike entered its tenth week on Thursday as striking unions – the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – and the company failed to clinch a wage deal.

Workers are demanding a R1 000 increase in each year of a three-year wage deal. The company is offering R800 plus a R50 increase in the living out allowance.

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