Zwane up for ne­go­ti­a­tion

Cham­ber of Mines threat­ens court ac­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ED STODDARD

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

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane says his door is open to en­gage­ment with min­ing com­pa­nies over the newly drawn in­dus­try char­ter.

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