SA’s junior miners feel marginalised by regulations: SRK

PARTNERS at SRK Consulting, a consulting engineering firm, said junior miners were being marginalised by South Africa’s Mining Charter as they were being treated as if they were the same as established mining companies.

Speaking earlier this month at the Junior Indaba, a conference, SRK Consulting principal geologist and partner at SRK, Mark Wanless said: “They would like smaller firms and start-ups to be exempt from BEE [black economic empowerment] requirements, as having a large BEE shareholder with limited funding capacity is a big hurdle when seeking capital funding from investors”.

“The DMR [Department of Mineral Resources] has no usable portal where explorers or investors can find out who requires which prospecting licenses, and what licences are available,” he said. “The application process is quite opaque, time-consuming and expensive; previously, it was possible to get a prospecting license for a nominal fee on the same day.”

According to SRK (SA) partner and principal mining engineer Marcin Wertz, it was significant that junior mining companies had recently formed their own alternative association to champion their interests.

“This is a sign that they feel their voices are not being heard, and that the stakeholders currently negotiating the Mining Charter do not represent them,” he said. “They see today’s large mine companies as representing global players who have options elsewhere, the trade unions as serving their employed constituents rather than potential new entrants to the labour market, and government as being ideologically opposed to free enterprise.”