Changes to mining Act need work

Years of fighting by South African mining communities have shaped the changes to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

But civic organisations say the recently released amendments need some work if these communities are to finally be heard.

In his speech to delegates at the 26th annual Mining Indaba in Cape Town this week, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said that mining companies “must take seriously the communities on whose land they mine”.

The subject of community land rights has been a mainstay of Mantashe’s time as minister, as his department inched closer towards finalising the draft amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

The Act — which came into force in 2004 and vests all mineral rights in the state — governs who gets to mine.

But in recent years litigation has exposed how the Act, in its initial form, has failed to address the tension between land rights and the rights of companies to mine that land.

In two court battles — over the informal land rights of the Bakgatla community in the North West and a community in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape — judges found that the Act does not trump the rights of communities to decide what should happen to their land.

Although civic organisations have pointed out that the amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act are a step in the right direction — in that they clarify what it means to meaningfully consult with these communities — they have also identified loopholes that could undercut the aim of the amendments.

For instance, in its submission on the amendments, Corruption Watch notes that the definition for meaningful consultation merely requires “good faith” on the part of the applicant.

“While this requires the applicant to go further than mere notification of the affected and interested parties, the reality is that the guidelines have similar requirements, which has led to the limitation of participation rights of community members,” the submission reads.

In its submission, The Centre for Applied Legal Studies takes issue with the phrasing of the requirements for initial consultation with interested parties.

The centre points out that “the phrasing of each of requirements as alternative ‘or’ rather than cumulative ‘and’ means that technically, mere publication in the provincial gazette could be sufficient”.

This could undermine the “progressive intent of the amendment”, the submission adds.

(John McCann/M&G)

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations