Jaw-jaw is bet­ter than war-war

Min­is­ter Zwane happy to talk to min­ing houses

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Reuters

MINES Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane said on Fri­day that he was open to talks with com­pa­nies over a new in­dus­try char­ter, but he re­buked the min­ing firms for plan­ning to take the new rules to court, say­ing they were “ne­go­ti­at­ing in bad faith.”

Un­veiled last week, the re­vi­sions to the char­ter raised the thresh­old for black own­er­ship in the min­ing in­dus­try to 30 per­cent from 26 per­cent and brought in other reg­u­la­tions the sec­tor said it can­not af­ford.

The Cham­ber of Mines has said it was not prop­erly con­sulted and would chal­lenge the char­ter in court.

Peace­ful man

“Our doors are open to en­gage­ment with them. We will meet them,” Zwane said in an in­ter­view w ith Reuters when asked if he would ne­go­ti­ate with the cham­ber. “We do not want to go to court. We are a peace­ful peo­ple,” he said.

Zwane also said he dis­ap­proved of the cham­ber’s court move say­ing “us­ing the courts as a ne­go­ti­at­ing tool is ne­go­ti­at­ing in bad faith.”

The Cham­ber of Mines hit back at Zwane’s com­ments, not­ing the min­is­ter’s of­fer to meet the in­dus­try but ques­tioned the tim­ing.

“The Cham­ber is per­plexed that this of­fer has arisen now, more than a week af­ter the pub­li­ca­tion of a char­ter that was based on a bad faith process. We can­not see that the min­is­ter’s com­ments form the ba­sis for a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able res­o­lu­tion of this mat­ter,” it said in a state­ment.

The in­dus­try body said its in­tended court action is a con­se­quence of the ab­sence of good faith ne­go­ti­a­tions on the part of the min­is­ter and depart­ment.

The mines min­is­ter was speak­ing to Reuters at an event in the coal min­ing town of Mid­del­burg where he was sup­posed to en­gage com­mu­ni­ties about the char­ter in a pub­lic fo­rum.

But it was dis­rupted by a group of de­mon­stra­tors who said they were an­gry that no provin­cial of­fi­cials were there and it was hastily called off.

The new char­ter also stip­u­lates that min­ing firms must pay 1 per­cent of their an­nual turnover to the Min­ing Trans­for­ma­tion and De­vel­op­ment Agency, which helps black com­mu­ni­ties.

Un­der the new rules, prospect­ing rights must be 50 per­cent black owned and min­ing rights should be 30 per­cent black-owned. Min­ing firms are re­quired to pro­cure 70 per­cent of goods and 80 per­cent of ser­vices from black-owned com­pa­nies.

Zwane would not be drawn on what parts of the char­ter might be changed, if any.

“I can­not say the char­ter will change,” he said.

Zwane also said ex­plo­ration per­mits for shale gas would likely be is­sued be­fore the end of this year and frack­ing could be­gin in two years.

South Africa’s re­cov­er­able gas re­serves from on­shore shale and off­shore gas fields was es­ti­mated in 2015 at about 19.5 tril­lion cu­bic feet (TCF).

PHOTO: REUTERS

Mosebenzi Zwane, Min­is­ter of Min­eral Re­sources, has ac­cused the Cham­ber of Mines of ne­go­ti­at­ing “in bad faith”.

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