Mine rights: ANC threatens constitutional change

[miningmx.com] — The wave of court cases over the allocation of mining and prospecting rights would force the ANC to change the constitution if the courts did not find in government’s favour.

The state will not stop intervening in the minerals sector for as long as the constitution was being used to uphold the current state of affairs.

These remarks by Fred Gona, chairperson of the portfolio committee on mineral resources, during a committee meeting on Tuesday apparently caught the opposition parties as well as the director-general of mineral resources, Sandile Nogxina, off guard.

Gona said the constitution provided only for the needs of the wealthy.

The delays in meeting the mining charter’s targets, as well as mining groups’ attempts to prevent their by-product rights being awarded to previously disadvantaged communities, as required by law, meant that the ANC would have to intervene because the constitution was not protecting the poor.

He did not expand on how the constitution should be changed.

Broad access to mineral rights was what the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act had envisaged when it was promulgated, but companies had since worked against it, said Gona.

He was referring to platinum mining group Lonmin’s recent appeal against the awarding of mining rights for base metals like chrome – which it mines together with platinum at its Marikana Mine – to Keysha Investments, a subsidiary of the HolGoun Group, which a former Lonmin board member, Sivi Gounden, chairs.

He also referred to the Kumba/Sishen mining rights saga.

Over the past year the ANC and government have put increasing pressure on the mining sector to make radical changes to give previously disadvantaged South Africans greater access to the sector.

Nogxina said that a court decision in favour of the state was a decision which would benefit most South Africans.

Sake24.com was told that Gona’s remarks had shocked departmental officials attending the meeting.

Cope’s Phillip Dexter said Gona’s remarks had been unacceptable.

The point, he said, was that if MPs worked hard they themselves could ensure that communities also had access to mineral rights.

– Sake24.com

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