Chamber of Mines seeks High Court
New mining charter ‘must be scrapped’
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.