/ 18 March 2009

Mineral rights ruling won’t help poor, says NUM

The disadvantaged are unlikely to benefit from a high court ruling on mineral rights, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday.

This was because the disadvantaged were ”systematically excluded” from benefits of mineral resources.

On March 6 Pretoria Judge Willie Hartzenberg ruled that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) is effectively expropriating unused, old order mineral rights.

The verdict will compel the state to pay compensation or reinstate ownership of expropriated mineral rights, according to AgriSA’s chief executive Hans van der Merwe last week.

The NUM, however, argues that the ruling must be challenged as it would have huge negative implications not only for the mining Industry but for the whole country.

”Naturally, the NUM expects a judge at the level of high court to appreciate the country’s historical background and to take cognisance of the national objectives.”

The department has said that the ruling, as it was understood, pertained ”only to legal technical exceptions” raised by it against claims by AgriSA.

”The merits of the main case remain to be decided by the high court,” spokesperson Bheki Khumalo was quoted as saying on the department’s website.

”The department is confident that, in the end, the government’s view that the MPRDA did not expropriate pre-existing mineral rights will

He said the question was of vital public importance which may have to be resolved in the final instance by the Constitutional Court. — Sapa