Chamber of Mines goes to court over levy hike

[] — The Chamber of Mines on Monday said it approached the High Court in Pretoria for a declaratory order regarding the legal understanding of the Compensation Fund.

“Chief Executive Zoli Diliza… has approached the High Court for a declaratory order, to determine a common legal understanding with the Compensation Commissioner, regarding the contribution to be made by existing controlled mines and works to the Compensation Fund,” the chamber said in a statement.

This followed intentions of the Compensation Commissioner to increase levies.

These levies were paid by currently operating controlled mines, and worked to fund the “entire shortfall in the compensation fund which, in 2003, was estimated to be R610m”, the chamber said.

“This is despite the fact that R414m of this shortfall would be towards claims from former mineworkers, whose claims should be paid by the state as the controlled mines had already contributed to the fund in respect of their risk shifts.”

Diliza said statutory stipulations of the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) suggested that the Compensation Commissioner may not include in the levy of any mine an “amount that is not intended to be used solely for funding benefits payable to persons who performed risk work at that mine.

“Nor may the Compensation Commissioner include in any levy of any mine the cost of paying compensation to persons who no longer work at that mine,” he said.

There were provisions in the Act to cater for former mineworkers through Parliamentary interventions.

“We are of the opinion that it would be unlawful for existing controlled mines and works to bear the burden of a shortfall in respect of former mine workers including those who had worked in mines and works that did not contribute to the fund and for mines that had contributed but were no longer in existence,” Diliza said.

He added that the Chamber of Mines was mindful of the potential consequences of the shortfall to the former mineworkers.

The matter was set down for November 23 and 24 at the High Court in Pretoria.