Mine chief says he’d pre­fer talk over court

Gold Fields seeks res­o­lu­tion

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS NEWS - Di­neo Faku

AS THE Cham­ber of Mines on Tues­day de­fended it­self against claims by Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane – that it was try­ing to block trans­for­ma­tion in the in­dus­try – with counter-al­le­ga­tions of trans­parency, Gold Fields chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Hol­land said the min­ing com­pany would favour talks to re­solve is­sues re­gard­ing the char­ter over court ac­tion.

Hol­land told Bloomberg tele­vi­sion the is­sue might af­fect other com­pa­nies con­sid­er­ing re­struc­tur­ing or deals, but that it was not af­fect­ing Gold Fields op­er­a­tions or plans.

He said it was un­clear how the court chal­lenge against the third ver­sion of the min­ing char­ter would pan out.

The char­ter process had fol­lowed a lack of con­sul­ta­tion with in­dus­try, he said.

The char­ter, among other stip­u­la­tions, re­quires that new min­ing rights must have a 30 per­cent black own­er­ship and that a holder of a new min­ing right pay 1 per­cent of turnover to black share­hold­ers prior to any dis­tri­bu­tion to share­hold­ers.

The cham­ber ap­plied to the court for an ur­gent in­ter­dict against the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the char­ter, which was gazetted on June 15. In a sur­prise move, Zwane back­tracked on his de­ci­sion for a mora­to­rium on the grant­ing of new min­ing li­cences.

Re­spond­ing to com­ments by Zwane, the cham­ber on Tues­day said it was not true that it was op­posed to the trans­for­ma­tion of the min­ing in­dus­try.

“The cham­ber’s only pro­viso is that real trans­for­ma­tion must be im­ple­mented with due re­gard to what is achiev­able, bear­ing in mind the re­al­i­ties of the sit­u­a­tion the in­dus­try faces,” it said.

The cham­ber also charged that trans­for­ma­tion ad­vo­cated in the char­ter was de­signed to ben­e­fit the in­ter­ests of a se­lect few, while killing any ap­petite for in­vest­ment and lead­ing to fur­ther job losses.

“The De­part­ment of Min­eral Re­sources (DMR’s) Re­viewed Char­ter is de­signed to ex­tract bil­lions of rand in rev­enues an­nu­ally from min­ing right hold­ers into an agency con­trolled solely by the Min­is­ter of Min­eral Re­sources.

“This agency has no gov­er­nance in place and the ir­re­sistible con­clu­sion is that its pur­pose is not to ben­e­fit trans­for­ma­tion,” it said.

About 20 000 minework­ers are fac­ing the threat of re­trench­ments af­ter Sibanye Gold, An­gloGold Ashanti and At­latsa Re­sources said they planned to moth­ball loss-mak­ing shafts.

The cham­ber blamed the DMR for hav­ing no trans­parency and for not in­di­cat­ing who would ac­cess the funds, and how the funds would be ac­count­able.

“This is fur­ther an un­con­sti­tu­tional at­tempt to col­lect an ad­di­tional tax,” the cham­ber said.

Zwane on Mon­day fi­nally sub­mit­ted an an­swer­ing af­fi­davit to the cham­ber’s ap­pli­ca­tion to in­ter­dict the char­ter.

This af­ter Judge Ra­marumo Monama crit­i­cised him for “dis­re­spect­ing” the court for miss­ing the dead­line for fil­ing court doc­u­ments.

Zwane ac­cused the cham­ber of mak­ing “an at­tempt to block ef­fec­tive and mean­ing­ful par­tic­i­pa­tion of black per­sons in the min­ing and min­er­als in­dus­try”.

Zwane also blamed the cham­ber for over­stat­ing the im­pact of the char­ter.

“The ap­pli­cant’s com­plaint that R50 bil­lion has been wiped off min­ing stocks is, with re­spect, bizarre. When any leg­isla­tive or pol­icy change in the coun­try is mooted and de­bated, it af­fects those in eco­nomic con­trol who might choose in the short term to sell their stocks. To use the lit­mus test of the short-term move­ment in min­ing stocks in re­sponse to a pol­icy shift as a gauge for the law­ful­ness of those leg­isla­tive in­ter­ven­tions is in­cor­rect,” he said.

Zwane also dis­missed the cham­ber’s com­plaints that it had not been con­sulted in the draft­ing of the char­ter, say­ing it had had 17 meet­ings with the cham­ber be­tween March 2016 and March 2017.

Hol­land said it is un­clear how the court chal­lenge against the third ver­sion of the char­ter would pan out.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The char­ter, among other stip­u­la­tions, re­quires that new min­ing rights must have a 30 per­cent black own­er­ship and that a holder of a new min­ing right pay 1 per­cent of turnover to black share­hold­ers prior to any dis­tri­bu­tion to share­hold­ers.

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