AEMFC ‘special favours’ law to be repealed

[] — MINES Minister Susan Shabangu has approved the withdrawal of some special regulatory exemptions which had been granted to state miner African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC) by her predecessor Buyelwa Sonjica in 2008.

In a short statement issued on Friday, the department of mineral resources said a notice in this regard would be published in the Government Gazette on Monday.

“The Minister of Mineral Resources of South Africa… has approved the withdrawal of an exemption granted to AEMFC in terms of section 106 (1) of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA),’ read the statement.

“She has effectively exempted it from the provisions of sections 16, 20, 22 and 27 of the said act in so far as it relates to any activity to prospect, mine and the removal of any mineral for accumulating and stockpiling for purposes of security of supply and purposes incidental thereto.’

Sections 16, 22 and 27 of the MPRDA set out the requirements applicants for prospecting rights, mining rights and mining permits must comply with, while section 20 provides that the holder of a prospecting right may only perform bulk sampling of minerals under such a prospecting right with the minister’s consent.

In its statement, the DMR said the exemption was initially prompted by the coal crisis of 2008 which was “graphically demonstrated by the dreaded load-shedding of the time’.

“Accordingly, it was aimed at facilitating access to coal resources by AEMFC in a bid to deal with the national emergency at the time.’

The DMR also said that AEMFC has until now complied with all the application and granting criteria other players had to adhere to.

“Minister Shabangu has repeatedly stated before and during her current roadshow that there is no need for AEMFC to be exempted from the provisions of the act.”

Government has frequently been under fire for the exemptions granted to AEMFC. Mining law expert Hulme Scholes previously said it exempted AEMFC from a string of requirement, including environmental permits.

Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya was also on record as saying that the chamber would not be opposed to the state entering the mining industry as an operator, but that the playing field should be level for all players.

At the launch of AEMFC’s Vlakfontein coal mine in Mpumalanga in February, CEO Sizwe Madondo said: “We do our applications just like any other company and stand in the same queues.’

A prospecting right for Vlakfontein was granted in December 2006, after which an application for a mining right was lodged in August 2009.

The environmental management plan and integrated water use licence application were submitted early in 2010. The mining right was granted in August 2010, pending the EMP record of decision which was obtained towards the end of 2010, said Madondo.