Zwane up for negotiation
Chamber of Mines threatens court action
MINERAL Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says he is open to talks with companies over a new industry charter, but 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% from 26% 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.
“Our doors are open to engagement with them. We will meet them,” Zwane said yesterday 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 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% of their annual turnover to the Mining Transformation and Development Agency, which helps black communities.
Under the new rules, prospecting rights must be 50% black-owned and mining rights should be 30% black-owned. Mining firms are required to procure 70% of goods and 80 % 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 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 were estimated in 2015 at about 19.5 trillion cubic feet. Officials say it would take about a decade to significantly develop these gas resources. – Reuters
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says his door is open to engagement with mining companies over the newly drawn industry charter.