Mining Charter court bid put on hold as Ramaphosa steps in

The day before it was supposed to start, an application by the Chamber of Mines for a judicial review and setting aside of the reviewed Mining Charter has been postponed.

“I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a Charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.

The application was set to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court starting on Monday. But on Sunday evening both the mining advocacy body and the presidency put out statements saying that negotiations would again commence.

“The presidency has indicated that the president is committed to resolving the impasse over the Mining Charter and to facilitate a process of developing a new Mining Charter, inclusive of all stakeholders and in the interests of the industry and the country as a whole,” the Chamber said in a statement on Sunday afternoon.

“In line with the spirit and the tone of the message as stated by the president during SONA on 16 February, the Chamber of Mines is agreeable to the request by the Presidency to give negotiations a chance.”

“The Chamber of Mines wishes to reiterate its position that only a negotiated Mining Charter taking on board the views and inputs of all key stakeholders will enjoy the support and endorsement of all stakeholders.”

Space for engagement

In a statement issued by the office of the presidency, Ramaphosa said that postponement would allow the Chamber and the Department of Mineral Resources “space to engage and find an amicable solution”.

“The Presidency and the Chamber of Mines have approached the seven other applicants, as well as two amici curiae, namely the National Union of Mineworkers and Solidarity, to advise them of this development, and have encouraged them to similarly postpone their applications,” his office said.

READ MORE: Solitary joins forces with Chamber of Mines in mining charter court battle

“This is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment during the State of the Nation Address to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter to ensure that it is truly ‘an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa'”. 

The Chamber of Mines has been critical of the of the reviewed Charter, sometimes also referred to as Mining Charter III, saying it would hobble the industry if implemented.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, meanwhile, has defended the Charter, which was published in the Government Gazette in June 2017, saying it is government’s prerogative to create laws, and the Charter is a necessary tool to promote transformation.

And while he has also publicly stated he is willing to engage with mining industry for talks over the Charter’s content, the Chamber of Mines previously said it lost faith in him as a discussion partner.

Implementation of the Charter had already been put on ice until the application was heard.

Empowerment

Key aspects of the charter include an increase in black economic empowerment shareholding of all mines from a previous 26% to 30%. In addition, 50% of all board members and executive management at mines must be black, while 70% of all mining goods and 80% of all services in the mining industry must be procured from BEE entities.

READ MORE: Mining charter: Disaster or boon?

New mining rights, meanwhile, would be subject to a 1% revenue payment to BEE shareholders prior to any shareholder distribution.

The Chamber of Mines, in a statement on Friday, had told Fin24 that the charter was still “hanging over the industry”.

“In its current form, the reviewed Mining Charter will have a significant adverse effect on the industry. As we have always stated, resorting to legal action has always been a last resort, however, given the questionable approach taken by the DMR, the Chamber has been forced to seek legal recourse,” it said before Ramaphosa had delivered his maiden SONA.

“We would like to see a situation where the Reviewed Mining Charter is withdrawn.” — Fin24

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Jan Cronje
Jan Cronje
Fin24 Journalist based in Cape Town.

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