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Mantashe bemoans R1.9bn funding for DMR is inadequate

May 15 2018 16:12
Lameez Omarjee

Cape Town - Government’s R1.9bn budget allocation to the department of mineral resources (DMR) is “inadequate”, says Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

After fewer than 100 days in office, Mantashe tabled the budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday, outlining the department's priorities for the 2018/19 financial year. These include issues of policy and legislation, health and safety, mining rights and applications for mining licences, and illegal mining, all of which Mantashe said must be addressed urgently.

“The funding allocated to the department, and its portfolio of entities, remains inadequate if we are to effectively carry out our mandate,” Mantashe said.

“An insufficient allocation of resources curtails our efforts to create more economic opportunities.

“We are mindful of the fiscal constraints the country faces – in the same breath as we will strive to deliver with the limited resources at our disposal, in line with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).”

More than half (51%) of the budget goes to entities reporting to the DMR. Of this, Mintek and the Council for Geoscience receive 83% of the transfers for research and development, Mantashe explained. This is critical to address issues like health and safety and geological mapping, he said at a media briefing following the speech at Parliament.

Policy certainty

During his address to Parliament, Mantashe also stressed the importance of maintaining stability in the industry through policy and regulatory certainty. “The relative stability seen in the sector in recent times bodes well for the sustainability of mining and creation of a conducive environment for investment,” he said.

“Rebuilding the levels of trust and confidence in the sector is paramount to return us to the business of mining.

“We are investing time and effort to rebuild relationships and trust with our primary clients: business, labour and communities,” said Mantashe.

He added that “frank and open” discussions with stakeholders were encouraged. If there were disagreements, these should be over substantive issues, not a lack of trust.

Mantashe affirmed that engagements on the mining charter were being intensified, with the hope of finalising and gazetting it in June.

Government has engaged with seven mining communities so far and four regions are left, he told journalists. The relationship with communities is important and industry should tend to issues raised by mining communities.

Mantashe said government was criticised for using Mining Charter 3 or the 2010 Mining Charter as a base from which to develop the new Charter. But he defended this decision, saying stakeholders could not move from the known to the unknown. He said it was important to recognise what stakeholders did not like in Charter 3, and then move forward.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill is currently before the National Council of Provinces.

Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant told journalists consultations on the bill had been concluded. Mandates were being deliberated and the matter should be expedited by Parliament, Oliphant said.

During his address, Mantashe explained that the MPRDA would be crucial in entrenching regulatory and policy certainty needed for investment.

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