De­lay of min­ing char­ter wel­come

Cham­ber, DMR will talk

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Di­neo Faku

THE AGREE­MENT struck between Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane, and the Cham­ber of Mines to halt the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Min­ing Char­ter III has been wel­comed by le­gal ex­perts as a sign that both par­ties would re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble. How­ever, the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (NUM) says it had taken ex­cep­tion to the deal.

The cham­ber said on Fri­day that Zwane had given a writ­ten un­der­tak­ing that he to­gether with the Depart­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR), would pull the brakes on im­ple­ment­ing the char­ter, pend­ing the out­come of a court judg­ment in its ap­pli­ca­tion for an ur­gent in­ter­dict.

Africa En­ergy and Re­sources Leader at pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm Deloitte, An­drew Levy, said on Fri­day the post­pone­ment of the char­ter was pos­i­tive.

“I think it is a pos­i­tive sign. Hope­fully it will of­fer an op­por­tu­nity for some real en­gage­ment to get to a work­able so­lu­tion,” Levy said.

“Of course, un­cer­tainty re­mains. We do not know what the out­come of the court chal­lenge will be, and how the par­ties will re­spond to the out­come,” he added.

Peter Leon, part­ner at Her­bert Smith Free­hills, said it was not al­to­gether sur­pris­ing as it gave the DMR more time to file its an­swer­ing af­fi­davit while at the same time pro­tect­ing the cham­ber’s mem­bers’ in­ter­ests.

“More pos­i­tively it has the ef­fect of op­er­at­ing as an in­terim in­ter­dict un­til the mat­ter is heard in Septem­ber, which means that the DMR can­not put the char­ter into ef­fect in the mean­while,” Leon said.

Min­ing com­pa­nies listed on the JSE lost R51 bil­lion in value when the char­ter was gazetted on June 15, as in­vestors voted with their feet on their con­cerns about some of the the tar­gets in the char­ter.

The cham­ber, which rep­re­sents 90 per­cent of the min­ing in­dus­try by value, asked the North Gaut­eng High Court last month to grant an ur­gent court in­ter­dict to have the char­ter re­viewed and set aside.

It blamed Zwane for lack of con­sul­ta­tion and said that the char­ter was flawed with un­re­al­is­tic tar­gets which threat­ened the sec­tor’s vi­a­bil­ity.

One of the stick­ing points for the cham­ber was that the char­ter re­quired min­ing com­pa­nies had 12 months in which to in­crease black own­er­ship in mines to the new 30 per­cent tar­get from the cur­rent 26 per­cent level.

How­ever, Zwane de­scribed the char­ter as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary tool through which to trans­form the in­dus­try and re­store cer­tainty as he gazetted it last month.

In a statement re­leased on Satur­day, Zwane said he had noted the state­ments at­trib­uted to the Cham­ber of Mines in the me­dia re­gard­ing the char­ter, and would pro­vide his con­sid­ered view on the mat­ter, at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.

The NUM, the big­gest union in the in­dus­try, said it planned to op­pose the agree­ment.

“The NUM will be con­sult­ing our le­gal unit to ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties of chal­leng­ing this court or­der ‘agree­ment’ between the cham­ber and DMR, as the trans­for­ma­tion in the min­ing in­dus­try af­fects all of us, es­pe­cially em­ploy­ees and com­mu­ni­ties,” spokesper­son Livhuwani Mamm­buru said on Fri­day.

“The NUM would like to ap­peal to the DMR to stop tip­toe­ing around trans­for­ma­tion and its con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions of re­dress­ing the im­bal­ances of past. The first such act should be to deal de­ci­sively with all min­ing com­pa­nies that failed to com­ply with the pre­vi­ous Min­ing Char­ter 2014 tar­gets, thus sus­pend­ing and with­draw­ing all those af­fected min­ing rights,” he said.

The post­pone­ment came a day af­ter Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba on Thurs­day called on the DMR and the cham­ber to re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to re­solve the im­passe over the char­ter.

South Africa’s Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba on Thurs­day called on the Cham­ber of Mines and the DMR to re­turn to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

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