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Zwane vows new Mining Charter will be most revolutionary

May 17 2017 05:00
Liesl Peyper, Fin24

Cape Town – The new and final Mining Charter will be one of the most revolutionary tools South Africa has ever seen, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi said on Tuesday. 

Speaking to journalists at a media briefing ahead of his budget speech in Parliament, Zwane said a revised Mining Charter will be published in the government Gazette within a matter of weeks. 

The Department of Mineral Resources published a first draft of the revised Mining Charter in April last year causing alarm to stakeholders in the mining industry, investors and the legal fraternity over its lack of consultation. 

READ: Chamber of Mines takes aim at govt over Mining Charter 

One of the biggest points of contention was the issue of once-empowered-always-empowered. In the draft charter the 26% black ownership per mining right was affirmed, which effectively means the DMR requires mining companies to have a perpetual 26% black ownership even if the original empowerment company disposes of its shares. 

The Chamber of Mines, among others has maintained once it has met the empowerment criteria mining companies should be exempted from further empowerment obligations.

On Tuesday, Zwane said the reason for publishing a draft version of the Mining Charter without consultation last year is because there had been “nothing to talk about”. 

“[At the time] we provided a framework and said, let’s engage. It took us more than a year to engage – with more than 60 stakeholders outside government, but also in government.” 

He said the new Mining Charter is a balanced document that takes into account the feelings of the mining industry but also other views.  

READ: Chamber in the dark over delay in Mining Charter 

“Let me tell you, 85% to 90% (of the content in the Mining Charter) finds common ground. The 10% will accommodate other views. We were trying to allow people’s views to come up in the Mining Charter instead of government dictating how people must be treated.” 

He said his Department has now concluded its consultation processes. “We think we’ve done sufficiently. We’re sure we’re empowering the people of South Africa. The sector will be proud.”

Asked whether the once-empowered-always-empowered matter has been resolved, Zwane said he has taken to heart the “genuine concerns”, including those of big mining companies. 

“We believe it was a genuine cry and so we can stop running to the courts and work together.” 

The Chamber of Mines earlier said it would seek a declaratory order on the issue of once-empowered-always-empowered if the matter is not resolved in the Charter. 

Zwane did not want to elaborate on the matter further, saying journalists shouldn’t “steal the thunder” before the release of the new Mining Charter. 

“Leave me with the thunder for the weeks to come,” he said. “The issue of once-empowered-always-empowered has been taken care of. I’ll divulge those details when I gazette in a couple of weeks.

“You’ll see why it took us a whole year for the Mining Charter. We want the people of South Africa to realise we took the time to talk to them,” Zwane said.

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