Political party Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament James Lorimer has questioned the veracity of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe's comments that broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) shareholding will not be required for prospecting rights licence applications.
The Mining Charter, which sets strict BBBEE requirements for the granting of mineral rights, requires that any existing mining rights holders obtain a minimum 26% BBBEE shareholding, while new mining rights must have a 30% minimum BBBEE shareholding to be granted licences..
Lorimer says that a presentation by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) officials to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Resources showed BBBEE requirements for the granting of prospecting rights, but that this was in contrast to comments made by Mantashe that BBBEE requirements of the Mining Charter would not apply to prospecting rights in an effort to secure more investment in prospecting in South Africa.
Mantashe had stated the objective to increase South Africa's share of global exploration investment from 1% to 3%.
"In an effort to attract more prospectors, so that more mines are developed, Mantashe has been saying the onerous BEE requirements of the Mining Charter are not applicable. He said this at last year’s Junior Mining Indaba and on an international Zoom call last night [March 2] with a Canadian law firm, among other occasions," said Lorimer.
Lorimer asked DMRE officials on March 3 to clarify whether BBBEE shareholding requirements for prospecting applied or not.
"Is Mantashe telling a pretty story to try and draw in new investors while clubbing them with BEE requirements if they actually apply? The Minister needs to tell us which," he said.
"The DA views the mining industry as a key part in turning around our failing economy. We need to attract more mining investment to create jobs and value for South Africans.
"The African National Congress-led government policies have given us a mining system with bad policy that is badly implemented. The mining industry is in a long-term decline because of this," concluded Lorimer.