Chamber of Mines take another swipe at Zwane in quarterly report

Cape Town – The Chamber of Mines are having internal discussions and talks with unions, NGOs and ANC leaders about what a new mining charter should look like, said Roger Baxter, CEO.

In the forward to the Chamber’s quarterly update released on Monday, Baxter said the Chamber is not shying away from transformation, realising that a new mining charter needs to be developed.

“But we need engagements with leaders of integrity whose goals are intended to serve the national interest rather than a select few – the select few whose interest (Mineral Resources) Minister (Mosebenzi) Zwane was apparently appointed to serve,” Baxter said.

The Chamber was scathing of Zwane’s decision to impose an indefinite moratorium on all new applications for prospecting rights and mining rights, the processing of applications of renewal of such rights as well as the transfer of rights between mining companies.

Zwane published this intention in the Government Gazette on July 19, but after an interdict brought by the Chamber he withdrew the notice and agreed not to implement the moratorium.

Baxter reiterated that the mining industry in South Africa has lost all confidence in Zwane to lead the Mines Ministry as a result of his “ill-advised” actions (including the gazetting of the third Mining Charter in June) and the “significant unanswered allegations of state capture and corruption” levelled against the minister.

The Mines Minister is said to be a close ally of the Gupta family, whom with his alleged assistance bought the Optimum Mine from Glencore in 2015. 

News24 earlier reported that Zwane, in his capacity as Free State MEC, had been implicated in possible irregular payments of between R40m and R144m to a dairy project in Vrede, run by a Gupta-linked company, Estina.

Zwane was allegedly appointed Mineral Resources Minister on the advice of the Gupta brothers when he replaced Ngoako Ramatlhodi in September 2015.

Baxter said in the Chamber’s quarterly update that the future of South Africa’s mining industry depends on the course that discussions with senior ANC members among others take over the coming months.

The content of the third revision of the Mining Charter will be the subject of a hearing in the Pretoria High Court on December 13 and 14.

Mining analysts and lawyers alike expect that the Charter in its current form is unlikely to see the light of day, but warn that the legal cases that will ensue could last for years, which will put investment in the industry on hold for even longer. 

Baxter admitted that it is difficult to predict the course of events during and after the December hearing, even after the court finds constitutional and/or other legal flaws in the content of the Charter. 

"It may be likely that it would send the Minister back to the drawing board, or send him back to redraft the Charter in consultation with stakeholders," Baxter said.

"Future developments could also depend on developments in the political arena, which are impossible to predict," Baxter said in reference to the ANC's elective conference which is taking place in December in Gauteng. 

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