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South African regulator not doing enough to promote junior mining – mining lawyer

Mining lawyer Hulme Scholes interviewed by Mining Weekly’s Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

4th July 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The major theme of the recent Junior Indaba was the concern that the South African regulator is not doing enough to promote junior mining in South Africa.

Government’s role should be to cut red tape from the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act to bring the application system for prospecting rights and mining rights up to standard because it is capable of manipulation by corrupt officials. That must be sorted out, Malan Scholes Attorneys director and mining lawyer Hulme Scholes told Mining Weekly in a Zoom interview on Tuesday. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

The second thing is that government must prioritise crime in the mining industry and help mining deal with it.

“Those are the two immediate action items that the government should attend to,” said Scholes.

Then, from a planning perspective, stable electricity supply is absolutely necessary: “You can't plan your operations in circumstances where you have an inability to determine what the power plan is for the country.”

On the mining industry being subject to unprecedented levels of crime at the moment, the permanent positioning of mines makes local crime control absolutely essential.

“You can't lift up your mine and move to an area where there's less crime. You’re stuck in the area where you are, and the police are definitely not doing enough to investigate, prevent and  prosecute criminal activity in mining areas. Zama Zama mining, unlawful mining, so-called procurement extortion, theft of cable, all those sort of things, are just out of control.

“Mining companies are spending more and more and more of their budgets on crime prevention. They’re doing the crime prevention the State should be doing.

“Communities who are desperate are looking to mining companies for their basic needs and if they can't get their basic needs met, out of frustration they try and extort that out of mining companies.

“We've been to court for more times than I can remember to interdict the sort of very often violent behaviour by a frustrated communities who want mining companies to provide them with basic services that the State is not providing them with,” Scholes pointed out.

STILL A LOT OF MINING LEFT

If South Africa’s regulatory environment was more conducive to expansion, if the government was more driven and there were more policy drivers to expand mining, this country could do a lot better than it is doing at the moment.

“There's a lot more mining left in South Africa. It's not a sunset industry, but we just don't have enough from the government to grow our mining industry,” said Scholes, who highlighted South Africa as having some very advanced laws. “We have a very advanced system of social and labour plans. The systems are there, the law is there.

“Like a lot of things in South Africa, our environmental laws are some of the best in the world, but the policing and the enforcement is lacking. That’s where we face challenges.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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