Cham­ber of Mines seeks High Court

New min­ing char­ter ‘must be scrapped’

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Di­neo Faku

THE SIMMERING bat­tle between busi­ness and the gov­ern­ment in the min­ing in­dus­try is ex­pected to reach the High Court on Mon­day when the Cham­ber of Mines, whose mem­bers in­clude An­gl­o­Gold Ashanti and An­glo Amer­i­can, ap­proaches the court to ap­ply for the newly gazetted Re­viewed Min­ing to be scrapped.

The cham­ber’s chief ne­go­tia­tor, El­ize Stry­dom, told jour­nal­ists on the side­lines of an in­for­ma­tion shar­ing ses­sion by the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion in Ma­galies­burg yes­ter­day that it was deeply re­gret­table that the cham­ber was not con­sulted about the char­ter.

“We are aim­ing for Mon­day. We want the High Court to grant an or­der that pro­hibits the Min­is­ter of Min­eral Re­sources, Mosebenzi Zwane, from im­ple­ment­ing the Re­vised Min­ing Char­ter,” Stry­dom said.

Stry­dom said the char­ter was con­fus­ing and vague. “We are hop­ing the court will grant that the par­ties must go back to the ta­ble and draft a char­ter that is ra­tio­nal,” she said.

Fol­low­ing the gazetting of the char­ter last week on Thurs­day, the cham­ber threat­ened to ap­ply for an ur­gent court in­ter­dict to pre­vent its im­ple­men­ta­tion be­cause of a lack of con­sul­ta­tion.

It also said it would ap­ply for a re­view of the char­ter, which it claimed was am­bigu­ous and had unrealistic tar­gets that threat­ened the sus­tain­abil­ity of the in­dus­try.

“We (the cham­ber) are the stake­holder that is go­ing to im­ple­ment the char­ter. It is a pity that we have been brushed aside and were not con­sulted,” she said.

De­spite the loom­ing court ac­tion, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma yes­ter­day en­dorsed the char­ter in the Na­tional As­sem­bly, claim­ing it would not have an ef­fect on the sec­tor.

How­ever, R51 bil­lion in value was wiped off the min­ing in­dus­try on the JSE when the char­ter was gazetted last week.

Rat­ings agency Moody’s on Wed­nes­day also put South African min­ing houses on a credit down­grade no­tice.

Min­is­ter Zwane, who pre­vi­ously de­scribed the char­ter as a “rev­o­lu­tion­ary tool” with which to trans­form the in­dus­try, plans to gal­vanise sup­port at grass­roots for it.

Zwane is ex­pected to lead coun­try­wide road­shows, start­ing with a sched­uled im­bizo in Mid­del­burg in Mpumalanga to­day, at which he will un­pack the char­ter.

Zwane also re­port­edly de­fended the char­ter when he tabled the bud­get vote of the Depart­ment of Min­eral Re­sources on Wed­nes­day, say­ing young peo­ple needed to ex­ploit the op­por­tu­ni­ties con­tained in the char­ter.

The char­ter has in­creased the em­pow­er­ment tar­get for black own­er­ship in min­ing to 30 per­cent from pre­vi­ous tar­get of 26 per­cent.

As part of the re­vised 30 per­cent own­er­ship tar­get, min­ing com­pa­nies need to be 14 per­cent owned by black en­trepreneurs, 8 per­cent by em­ploy­ees and the re­main­ing 8 per­cent should be­long to com­mu­ni­ties.

How­ever, the sec­tor is al­ready un­der pres­sure from price volatil­ity in the com­mod­ity en­vi­ron­ment, ris­ing cost pres­sures and the down­grad­ing of South Africa’s credit rat­ings.

Henk Lan­gen­hoven, the chief econ­o­mist at the cham­ber, ear­lier painted a bleak pic­ture of the in­dus­try and in­di­cated that 40 000 jobs had been lost in the sec­tor over the past two years. He added that 1 500 jobs were be­ing lost monthly in the in­dus­try.

Min­er­als re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane. He plans to gal­vanise sup­port for the new min­ing char­ter.

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