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Chamber of Mines lodges interdict against Zwane about mining notice

Jul 25 2017 18:41
Carin Smith

Johannesburg - The Chamber of Mines on Tuesday served an urgent application with the Pretoria High Court to review and set aside a notice that appeared in the Government Gazette on 19 July 2017 under the name of Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

The notice relates to Zwane's intention to place 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 specifically mentions placing a restriction on prospecting rights, mining rights and section 11 applications. Section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act (MPRDA) specifically pertains to consent for the selling of underlying rights and the transfer of rights between companies.

Last week the chamber said it would write to Zwane to request his immediate withdrawal of the notice, failing which the chamber said it would apply for an urgent interdict to suspend and review the notice.

According to the chamber, Zwane "regrettably failed to withdraw" the notice.  

READ: Zwane overstepping powers with mines moratorium

The chamber also wants to interdict Zwane from taking any decision or issuing any directive contemplated in the notice. The chamber will seek the urgent setting aside of the notice on one of two bases, namely either the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) or the constitutional principle of legality.   

"The matter will need to be heard in urgent court on 4 August 2017. This date is the deadline the notice affords members of the public to respond to the notice," the chamber said in a statement.     

"(Our) legal advice is that the notice constitutes an unlawful action for a number of reasons including the damaging impact of the notice itself and its proposed further action on the mining sector; and that the minister acted ‘ultra vires’ or beyond his powers under MPRDA and unconstitutionally by issuing the notice."
 
The chamber said it noted, with regret, that the industry has no option but to proceed with court action to ensure that the minister acts within the law and in the best interests of the industry and the country.

In the view of the chamber, the notice will pave the way for the minister to issue a further notice to prevent the issuing of new mining and exploration rights and that this will have an immediate negative impact on investment in the sector.

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