THE road has been cleared for the South African government to appeal a court ruling on ‘once-empowered, always empowered’, the Minerals Council South Africa said.
This means that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) can take a key sticking point contained in the third version of the Mining Charter – (Mining Charter III) – to the Supreme Court further delaying regulatory certainty in the sector.
The contest is over whether empowerment deals that complied with the Mining Charter have to be repeated if, for any reason, they lapse.
The council said in a statement today it respected the right for the mines minister, Gwede Mantashe, to seek leave to appeal the declaratory order, adding however that it hoped the matter would be ‘ventilated’ in court speedily.
Privately, however, the drawn out nature of the legal dispute must be a major drag for the council because it serves to remind lenders and mining companies that regulatory uncertainty still lurks at the heart of the country’s mining sector.
Whilst the Minerals Council has been seeking to settle the matter out of court, media was given a reminder of government’s side of the argument during a round table on September 13.
Asked for his view on whether Mining Charter III represented the final version of document, Mantashe responded: “We are dealing with transformation at a superficial level. It is really about dealing with a system formalised by DF Malan [a former president: 1948-54]. The super-builder of apartheid, [Hendrik] Verwoerd [a former president: 1958-61], made the point that he constructed a system that no government could undo.
“We need to see it from that level rather than looking at whether Charter is the last or not,” said Mantashe. “Not until there is normality in society,” he said in direct response as to whether there would be a stop to Mining Charter iterations.
“It is not a Minerals Council charter, but a charter for transforming society. If there is a change in the ownership of the mining sector, it helps to allow black people to have meaningful stake in business.”