SA mining firms to get charter report in December

South Africa’s big mining companies are likely to know next month how they should implement a new charter that aims to give blacks a bigger stake in the white-owned industry, a key negotiator said on Tuesday.

A so-called “scorecard” will monitor progress towards achieving objectives that were set last month in a final draft charter, which says 15% of local mine assets must be in black hands within five years and 26% in 10 years.

“We are likely to have proposals ready… by the end of this month. So it is likely that it could be ready by mid-December in terms of public debate,” said Roger Baxter, chief economist at the Chamber of Mines.

The chamber represents South Africa’s mine owners, including global diversified miner Anglo American Plc and its platinum unit Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest producer of the white metal.

The charter and scorecard are being negotiated by the chamber and government and labour representatives. The scorecard sets out the targets for implementing the charter and will monitor the firms’ progress.

Eight years after the end of apartheid, the South African economy is still largely controlled by whites, but government policies aim to give the black majority a bigger role.

A first draft of the charter leaked in July scared investors with suggestions that 30% of mining assets and 51% of all new projects be sold to black businesses within 10 years.
The new draft does not set target for new projects.

Investors were soothed by the release of the final draft last month, but jitters remain over the scorecard.

Baxter said the companies should not be worried.

“There are no hidden surprises. The scorecard only gives regulatory effect to the spirit and intent of the charter. Nothing more and nothing less,” he said.

“We are just finishing off the proposals and working on some of the angles around beneficiation,” Baxter said.

Minerals Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the scorecard would be like an “application form”.

“The scorecard is just a monitoring tool in order for companies to get their licences approved,” she told a breakfast meeting.

Mine royalties, another outstanding issue for worried investors, would be comparable with those of other mining countries such as Canada, Australia and Russia, she said.

“We will be as competitive as the royalties systems in other countries. We don’t want it to be a burden on companies. We have paid great attention to each mineral, and made comparisons to other countries that produce similar (metals),” she said. - Reuters

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