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Zwane blowing smoke - Chamber of Mines

Aug 08 2017 13:40
Yolandi Groenewald

Johannesburg - The Chamber of Mines hit back at Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, after he filed a scathing responding affidavit at the North Gauteng High Court on Monday.

Zwane lambasted the chamber in his affidavit, filed in response to the organisation’s urgent application to interdict the implementation of the controversial new Mining Charter.

He accused the chamber of attempting to block “effective and meaningful” participation of black persons in the mining industry.

The mining department and Zwane then followed the affidavit with a fiery statement declaring that after consulting legal counsel, the minister believed the chamber had no grounds to interdict the charter.

On Tuesday the Chamber of Mines said it noted the aggressive nature of the statement and the minister’s accusations that it opposes transformation.

“This is simply not true, and the ongoing changing of the face of the industry over many years demonstrates that,” the chamber said.

It said its only proviso was that real transformation must be implemented with due regard to what is achievable, bearing in mind the realities of the situation the industry faces.

“In contrast, the transformation advocated by the department in its reviewed charter is designed to benefit the interests of a select few while killing any appetite for investment and leading to further job losses in an industry that has already experienced a significant reduction in employment levels over the past few years.”

The current charter was designed to extract billions of rands in revenues annually from mining right holders into an agency controlled solely by Zwane, the chamber said.

“This agency has no governance in place and the irresistible conclusion is that its purpose is not to benefit transformation,” it said, adding that the lack of transparency or clarity on who would have access to the fund is concerning.

“This is further an unconstitutional attempt to collect an additional tax,” it stated.

In his affidavit, Zwane claimed that his department engaged with the chamber, contrary to complaints that it had not done so.

“Throughout the course of its deliberations and consultations with the applicant from at least July 2016 onward, the department kept the applicant apprised of its thinking and consulted with the applicant as the draft 2017 charter evolved.”

No other stakeholder was “afforded” this, and the department “devoted considerably more time, energy, resources” to deal with concerns the chamber had.

But the Chamber of Mines said Zwane’s statement was misleading, saying the mentioned meetings were disingenuously mixed up by the department.

According to the chamber’s records and detailed notes from each meeting, only two meetings in 2016 related to non-ownership aspects of the reviewed Mining Charter.

“In each of these meetings the DMR (Department of Mineral Resources) only listened to the chamber’s inputs without providing input or taking these into account.”

ALSO READ: SA's bombshell Mining Charter halted for now

The Mining Charter published on June 15 2017 was substantially different to the version published previously. The chamber insisted it had never seen this document.

“This cannot honestly be described as consultation. This is unilateral determination.”

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