DMR satisfied with charter talks as industry meetings close

Godfrey Oliphant, deputy mines minister, South Africa

SOUTH African deputy mines minister, Godfrey Oliphant, said it was unlikely the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) would extend the consultation period with the country’s mining sector regarding proposals for a new mining charter.

The mining sector, led by the Chamber of Mines (CoM), met with the DMR for about a from the beginning of this month to discuss changes to the mining charter gazetted in South Africa’s parliament on April 14. The consultation period was set for a month.

One of the most contentious parts of the new mining charter was that mining firms had to ensure they maintained black economic empowerment ownership of 26% in their companies. The mining sector’s complaint with this was firstly a draft of the charter had not been discussed with it first before publishing it in parliament.

It also argued that having to re-empower their companies, especially when black-owned partners had already sold their shares, was heavily dilutory and would not attract new foreign capital.

“The minister [Mosebenzi Zwane] could extend the period, but it is unlikely,” Oliphant said. He was speaking at a press conference convened on the sidelines of the Junior Indaba, a conference held at the Johannesburg Country Club.

The procedure now is for the DMR to discuss the findings of meetings with the industry and to refine the process through certain platforms, such as MIGDETT or Mining Industry Growth Development and Employment Task Team, he said.

The suggestion is that there has been agreement with the industry on the contents of the charter, especially as the CoM said last month that negotiations were proceeding well.

“I think people will be surprised with what comes out of the charter negotiations,” said Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye Gold who was also attending the conference.

The charter would be completed before the end of the year whilst progress on amendments to the Minerals & Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) would be promulgated from November.

“We have made a lot of progress in line with what the president [South African president, Jacob Zuma] has said,” said Oliphant referring to Zuma’s decision to have the upper house of parliament, the National Council of Provinces, review the amendments to the MPRDA in terms of ensuring the constitutionality of the proposals.

“Our goal is for November,” he said.