CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – The Chamber of Mines (CoM) has cautiously welcomed the address by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane to the Investing in African Mining Indaba, in Cape Town. However, it has various concerns, and has called for a practical and workable third iteration of the Mining Charter, which is currently under review.
CoM CEO Roger Baxter said the chamber, like the Minister was seized with the issues of “shared prosperity and responsible investment”. It also valued the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) increasing focus on research and development, further exploration and technical support to the industry.
But Baxter called for “predictable, stable and competitive mining policy and legislation that is workable and practically achievable.”
“It is crucial that the processes relating to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and the Mining Charter – especially the ownership elements – are taken through a reasonable conclusion, within a specific time period.
“It is critically important that the MPRDA amendments given the deficiencies in primary legislation.”
He said the fact was that the process had taken four years to get to some kind of conclusion. In the intervening period, there had been regulatory uncertainty.
“The industry recognises and respects the role of government and that all stakeholders have an interest in the outcomes. However, the practical reality is that it is the chamber’s members – representing 90% of South Africa’s mineral production by value – who . . . will be responsible for implementing the revised Mining Charter and will, in fact, be assessed based on the targets set.
“It is for this reason that the chamber and its members seek a practical and workable third iteration of the charter that can be practically implemented in our ongoing transformation journey.”
Baxter said comments attributed to the DMR that parties that sought clarity or enforcement of their rights by the courts were “anti-transformation” were “most unfortunate”.
“The industry and its members will engage constructively in seeking pragmatic and realistic outcomes in discussions with government, but will seek clarity and secure their rights when required.”
He said the chamber was unequivocally committed to transformation.
“In our view, the mining sector has done more than any other component of the private sector to progress transformation in South Africa.”
However, he said setting targets that the industry could not achieve and which were not based on sound science and data would simply create more contestation and further undermine investment in the sector.
“We need workable and practical outcomes that progress the transformation journey that we are driving.”
Meanwhile, Deloitte Africa energy and resources leader Andrew Lane said he was heartened to hear Zwane appeal to investors and government alike to help drive the concept of “shared prosperity”. He was also pleased with initiatives mentioned by the Minister to make the environment more investor-friendly.
Lane also welcomed the government’s commitment to the geomapping campaign that will run for the next ten years with the aim of establishing the country’s remaining mining potential.
But he added that the true test would be government’s continued commitment to the industry. He also commented on Zwane’s commitment to supporting junior miners in the industry.
“The new era of junior miners and commitment by government to invest is definitely positive and noble, but is also indicative of the fact that larger investors have disinvested over the past few years, and we do need big capital to come back.”
Lane said the mining industry was also patiently awaiting the finalisation of the MPRDA, as well as the Mining Charter.
“The mining fraternity is patiently waiting for these as they are looking to see whether the charter will actually reflect their input.”
In its reaction to the Minister’s address, trade union Solidarity said Zwane had missed an opportunity to attract investors and curb job losses in the mining sector.
Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said the MPRDA and the revised Mining Charter were still “shrouded in uncertainty”.
“There is still concern about the new types of taxes contained in the first version of the charter, which would place a major financial burden on employers, ultimately resulting in lower wage increases and more retrenchments.
“People are still in the dark about the unrealistic appointment figures for middle management posts, 88% of which have to be black appointments – a doubling of the guidelines contained in the previous charter, and whether those have been revisited [is a moot point],” Du Plessis added.