Junior miners at risk of getting short shrift in Charter talks

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: Chief executive Bernard Swanepoel of South Africa's gold mining giant Harmony poses for the photographer 20 May 2005 in Johannesburg. The attempt by the South Africa's mining company to create the world's largest gold producer by taking over rival Gold Fields came to an abrubt end 20 May 2005 after seven months of court battles. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER JOE (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

JUNIOR mining firms were at risk of being sidelined in negotiations regarding a new Mining Charter, said BusinessLive citing the views of Bernard Swanepoel, chairman of the Small Business Initiative (SBI).

“If the voices of junior miners aren’t heard then the charter can’t apply to us. Surely there is some fairness and common sense that will apply. This is what is fundamentally wrong. How can two groups like the department and the chamber make rules in the absence of the rest of us when there’s not adequate involvement,” he told BusinessLive.

The SBI is not an advocacy body for small or junior mining, but Swanepoel is exposed to the sector through the Last Mile Fund which recently bought Mooiplaats, a colliery in Mpumalanga province, from MC Mining. The fund is also a participant in the Phakamisa Consortium which has an interest in bidding for Optimum Coal Mine.

The SBI also has a large number of junior mining companies that are part of the more than 100 municipal business chambers that make up the institute’s membership.

Small mining firms have not been consulted regarding the Mining Charter which is the subject of negotiations involving the Chamber of Mines, unions, and the Department of Mineral Resources. Participants in the talks are due to provide feedback on negotiations on April 10, according to Gwede Mantashe, South Africa’s mines minister.

“After talks with a number of these companies, Swanepoel and others have drawn up a submission to provide input for the charter talks,” said BusinessLive. It quoted Swanepoel as saying that legal action might follow if small miners were not involved in the talks. It would be contested that the Charter did not apply to them, it said.

Chamber of Mines senior executive for transformation, Tebello Chabana, told the online publication that all voices would be heard in the discussions. In addition to junior mining firms, communities have stepped forward – largely led by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies – saying they want inclusion in the talks.