Mantashe criticises law depriving Govt of jurisdiction over tailings facilities

SA mines minister, Gwede Mantashe.

SOUTH Africa’s energy and mines minister Gwede Mantashe criticised a High Court decision in 2009 that meant Government had no jurisdiction over tailings dams in the country, according to a report by the Daily Maverick.

“It deprived this company and this mine [of the] opportunity to have regular mining inspectors visiting it,” he said during his visit to Jagersfontein, the diamond mine in the Free State where a tailings facility burst on Sunday, killing at least one person and displacing an estimated 200 people.

“To me, it confirms that this cannot be an operation that is given a different definition — it is a mining operation, and therefore the DMRE [Department of Minerals and Energy] must take full responsibility for the operations. That judgment, to me, was a mistake and it should be corrected,” Mantashe said.

Daily Maverick said the court judgement was by the Free State High Court in the matter of De Beers vs Ataqua Mining and the DMRE.

The case dealt with the questions of whether the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002 deprived De Beers of the ownership of the minerals in its tailings dumps, and if the DMRE had the authority to grant prospecting or mining rights in tailings dumps created before 2002, said the publication.

De Beers won the 2009 court case, and the court held that tailings dumps are movables and thus ownership belongs to those who removed the minerals as they had occurred naturally in or on the earth, and the MPRDA could not control tailings dumps created before the act was created in 2002, said Daily Maverick.

“My own interpretation is that that judgement reflects the lack of understanding of mining as a value chain, because you can’t fragment mining,” Mantashe said, adding that it reflected judicial overreach.


  1. With all due respect Gwede, your interpretation only confirms YOUR total lack of understanding of mining and how it works and survives. You and your cronies are only interested in how you can bully companies into granting interests and rights to the elite ANC cadre’s who can line their own pockets. Let’s audit commercial interests of politically connected individuals and politicians and how they got them. This might prove more valuable than saying you want to control waste dumps. We know it’s for enrichment and NOTHING to do with helloing communities.

  2. The Minister always find a way to blame someone else.
    The exclusion of dumps made prior to 2004 from MPRDA is a result of mistakes by him own officials who wrote legislation.
    The court merely interpreted the legislation as it was enacted.
    The DMRE had 12 years plus to make amendments regarding dumps… nothing.

    Maybe its time to appoint competent officials…. Starting at the top….

  3. It is not at all clear that the re-processing of the dumps was outside the jurisdiction of the Mine Health and Safety Act – the court case only dealt with who owned the dumps and whether the DMRE could allocate the dumps to their cronies or not, in terms of the MPRDA and Mining Charter. The court found they couldn’t – the court made no finding about the application of the MHSA.

  4. Quite right ex miner. Well done. Everybody else was lost, including the minister. It’s about safety and health, not ownership. And on that legal basis the Health and Safety Directorate of the DMRE had and has full jurisdiction.

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