Invest in mining, urges Mantashe

Thursday, September 27, 2018

With the gazetting of the Mining Charter, South Africa now has the duty to drum up investment for the mining sector, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.

“The reality is that we are moving now, regulatory and policy uncertainty [has been] removed and cannot be used as an excuse [anymore]. We have a duty to mobilise investment into mining in the country,” said Mantashe.

Mantashe announced the gazetting of the charter at a packed media briefing in Tshwane.

His comments follow President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a drive to attract $100 billion worth of investments into the South African economy over five years.

The charter is aimed at achieving mutually symbiotic sustainable growth as well as broad-based and meaningful transformation of the mining and minerals industry.

The gazetting of the charter, the Minister said, will create regulatory certainty, sustainable growth and a competitive and transformed mining industry.

Public comments into the much-anticipated charter closed at the end of August and the gazetting of the charter brings to a close seven months of engagements with stakeholders in the sector since Mantashe’s appointment in February.

The reviewed Mining Charter 2017 was initially published for implementation in June 2017 but could not be implemented as the Chamber of Mines, which has since changed its name to the Minerals Council of South Africa, obtained a court review application against the implementation of the charter.

This led to a joint undertaking by the department and affected stakeholders to engage in meaningful consultations to address issues of concern. 

An extensive consultation process on the reviewed Mining Charter was initiated in March 2018 after social partners established two task teams – one focusing on transformation of the mining industry, while the other looked at the competitiveness and growth of the industry. 

On Thursday, Mantashe said the mining sector is receptive to the charter as extensive engagement has taken place.

“We talked to them, we didn’t relate to them as a boss talking to subordinates. We treated them as equals, we raised issues and they in turn raised their issues. The charter is a product of engagement,” he said.

Developing an implementation programme

The charter spans across seven elements including ownership, mine community development, employment equity, procurement and beneficiation.

Mantashe said the department will continue to engage its stakeholders and that there is already talk of working together to develop an implementation programme for the charter.

“The charter will only be successful when everybody involved is part of it,” he said.

Engaging mining communities

Mantashe, as part of his continued engagement with the sector, visited the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces over the course of the recent long weekend.

Media reports emerged that a community meeting which was to be addressed by the Minister on Sunday turned ugly when protesting residents were allegedly subjected to police brutality.

The Minister had gone to speak with the Eastern Cape community about their concerns over proposed mining by Australian company Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM) in the area.

“We are going to continue engaging that community, we are going to talk about conditions of mining,” he said.

Withdrawal of the MPRDA Bill

Meanwhile, the Minister spoke to the withdrawal of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill, saying it was a step towards creating regulatory and policy certainty.

The department has submitted a formal request to the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to withdraw the bill which was approved by Cabinet in May 2013.

At the time, the Department of Mineral Resources said the draft Bill will, among other things, regulate how mining licenses are awarded.

In August Mantashe said the MPRDA will be implemented in its current form.

Gas and oil legislation

The department has since engaged the gas and petroleum sector to initiate a process to develop a separate legal framework specifically for the sector and not have it as an appendage to the mining sector framework.

On when processes to kick start legislation for gas and oil will commence, Mantashe said this would happen after the withdrawal of the bill.

“I don’t think we should be forced to put timeframes on this process. We have to engage the sector so that process will start when we withdraw those amendments. It should move quite quickly,” he said. -