Mining charter set for more changes

[] — MINING communities were not consulted about the review of the mining charter, which is why the parliamentary portfolio committee for mineral resources started holding public hearings on the matter this week.

This could lead to new provisions in the revised charter, especially with regard to ownership, affirmative action, skills development and housing, according to portfolio committee chairperson Fred Gona.

The first of these hearings were held in Carletonville on Wednesday evening.

According to Gona, the portfolio committee realised that communities had not been consulted when the mining charter was presented to it for approval and publication in the Government Gazette.

He said the committee was also considering having the charter declared part of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), so that there could be no doubt about its enforceability.

Representatives of various community organisations in Carletonville asked the committee to consider the nationalisation of mines.

In particular, they complained about social and labour plans that had to be submitted by rights applicants to the department of mineral resources in terms of the charter before a mining licence would be considered.

Thabiso Mnyatifeng, chairperson of Merafong’s mining community forum, said most social plans were worthless. There should be a mechanism to hold mines accountable for implementation of these social plans, he said.

He also expressed concern about the effect acid mine water would have on the future agricultural potential of the region once Carletonville’s gold mines have been exhausted.

Mine dumps destroyed their ecosystem, said Mnyatifeng.

He said the forum had held a march to the Chamber of Mines building in Johannesburg and had handed a memorandum to the chamber. The memorandum contained complaints for inclusion in reviewing the mining charter.

But this had not happened.

He said there was no patriotic holders’ class. It had served no purpose to give mines to people like Patrice Motsepe, executive chair of African Rainbow Minerals.

They wanted state ownership of mines. The state was the only institution with a social mandate, Mnyatifeng told the committee to load applause.

In response to the submission, Gona told the 150-odd audience that it was within the portfolio committee’s power to include the community’s views in the charter.
This was not an exercise in public relations, he said.