SOUTH Africa will not rush the implementation of its new mining cadastre, said Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources and energy who added that its implementation will take place systematically over 12 months.
After four years of undertakings and shifting deadlines, the department of mineral resources and energy (DMRE) finally announced the name of a preferred service provider for a new mining licencing system and online database – commonly known as a cadastre.
The new cadastre will be provided by a consortium of three companies – Canada’s Pacific GeoTech Systems, MITs Institute and Gemini GIS and Environmental Services.
The announcement came three days before the annual Invest in Africa Mining Indaba held in Cape Town.
Addressing delegates on Monday, Mantashe said the new cadastre mining licencing system will ensure transparency as “the machine” will decide whether a permit or licence is granted, or not. The new system will replace the current SAMRAD system, criticised for often being non-functional and open to manipulation.
South Africa’s mining industry has questioned the DMRE’s decision to appoint a consortium of three companies to develop South Africa’s new cadastre instead of using the services of a tried and tested provider such as Cape Town-based Spatial Dimension. Spatial Dimension has built cadastres in more than 30 countries around the world, including in Africa.
The 12-month timeline for implementation Mantashe gave in his speech, might be optimistic to get a new cadastre up and running.
The process involves the migration of current electronic applications captured on SAMRAD, as well as a plethora of paper applications – some stacked to the ceilings at regional offices. It could also take months to train DMRE staff to use the new system and there’s the possibility that the department will have to establish a tribunal to rule on duplicated and contested mining and prospecting rights.
Speaking to MiningMx on the sidelines of the conference, Jacob Mbele, DMRE director-general, said the department will try its utmost to stick to the 12-month schedule. According to him, the Canadian counterpart of the consortium has vast experience in custom-built cadastres.
He pointed out that there is not really cadastres that are truly “plug and play” and that these systems need to be tweaked to the specifics of the country where it is implemented.