Mineral rights holders urged to obey law

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pretoria - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has warned that mineral rights holders not complying with their contractual obligations, would face the full might of the law.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Shabangu said the department was aware of a number of cases where some rights holders made it difficult for officials to conduct site inspections.

She urged rights holders to cooperate with the inspectors. Some rights holders reportedly avoid inspection teams by postponing set dates.

"We would like to make an appeal to rights holders not to compromise the audit process by trying to intimidate, bribe or discredit the process. An applicant caught trying to compromise our officials will face the full might of the law."

Recently, the department placed a six-month moratorium on all new applications for prospecting mining licences.

This was done to give the department time to review gaps and inefficiencies in the administrative process.

Shabangu said this process was bearing fruit, as they have managed to improve the workflow method.

The moratorium will be lifted next year and the department will be able to accept new mining licence applications.

The minister also expressed concern about fronting, saying it denies previously disadvantaged individuals opportunities in mining.

She warned that steps would be taken against companies that practice fronting.

As part of transformation in the mining sector, the department recently launched a new Mining Charter after an assessment of the former charter revealed certain targets had not been met.

Under the charter, new mining licence application processing time has also been reduced from six to three months.

The reviewed Mining Charter seeks to facilitate sustainable transformation, growth and development of the mining industry. It also puts emphasis on the target of having 26 percent of mining assets in Black Economic Empowerment-owned companies by 2014.

Mining is a major contributor to SA's GDP, with precious metals contributing over 60 percent to the country's mineral export earnings.

The mining industry is South Africa's biggest employer, with around 460 000 employees and another 400 000 employed by the suppliers of goods and services to the industry.