Chamber bid gets allies
THE CHAMBER of Mines’ battle to have the mining charter set aside is likely to get a boost after three community organisations approached the North Gauteng High Court to intervene in the matter, citing the lack of consultation.
This week the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (Cals) lodged an application on behalf of the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macau), Women Affected by Mining United in Action and the Mining and Environmental Justice Network of South Africa, challenging the validity of the charter.
The groups, who represent over 150 activists and community-based organisations, want the court to allow them to intervene in the chamber’s case and to force the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to consult meaningfully on the charter.
In its 43-page founding affidavit filed at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Macau said it had consulted Cals last month after a decision to intervene in the chamber matter.
Macau said that in discussions with Cals, it had made it clear that it did not support the case of the chamber, but wanted to intervene on the basis of the exclusion of mining-affected communities during the drafting processes of the 2017 Mining Charter.
“Our intervention is not aligned to that of the Chamber of Mines, neither do we find ourselves coming into this case from the same perspectives as the Chamber of Mines.
“We cannot align ourselves with the Chamber of Mines because mining companies themselves have failed in their own processes to include mining-affected communities as stakeholders in mining.
“Our exclusion by mines is more pronounced in the drafting and implementation of social and labour plans,” read the affidavit.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane gazetted the charter in June but suspended its implementation pending the court review in December
The chamber wants the 2017 Mining Charter to be set aside for lack of engagement after it blamed Zwane for gazetting the third version unilaterally, saying its implementation would destroy the industry.
In June Zwane described the charter as an “instrument for change”, arguing that 60 stakeholders outside the government, including communities and large mining companies, had been consulted.
He said that once gazetted, the charter would be “reflective of careful consultations”.
Peter Leon, partner and Africa co-chair at Herbert Smith Freehills, said yesterday that the Cals intervention might strengthen the chamber’s claim about the lack of consultation by the department.
“My own sense is that the High Court is likely to grant the application as the communities concerned are interested and affected parties, although it is being launched quite late,” Leon said.
“Social and labour plans (SLPs) here still suffer from the fact that they do not require community consent and are negotiated between the DMR and mining companies,” said Leon.
SLPs set out plans by the company to share mining benefits with communities. They are submitted to the DMR as part of their application for mining rights. ROYAL Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) has been ordered by mining inspectors to suspend operations at its North Shaft, the second such closure in about a week, according to two people familiar with the situation.
The company was issued with a Section 54 notice on Thursday for the entire shaft, say the informants.
They have asked not to be identified because the information is not yet public.
The suspension follows a similar notice a week ago which resulted in the shutdown of the operation at parts of the South Shaft for safety reasons.
Section 54 notices enable inspectors to close all or part of a mine if they have reason to believe it may endanger workers’ safety.
The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) returned to the mine earlier on Thursday, according to the people.
The department was not immediately available for comment.
RBPlat dropped 3.9 percent to R32.49 on the JSE yesterday, the biggest decline this month.
It was the worst performer among five companies in the FTSE/JSE Africa Platinum Mining Index.
The Johannesburg-based mine had informed Aforika Borwa Mining Solutions – a company linked to the politically connected Gupta family – that it would not renew its contract, the company said last week.
The Gupta family, who are friends of President Jacob Zuma and have been in business with one of his sons, have been accused of using the relationship to influence state contracts and cabinet appointments.
Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing.
Gary Naidoo, a spokesman for the Gupta family, did not answer several calls to his mobile phone.
“Any attempt to close the mine will be met with fierce resistance from the communities around the mines,” said Paul Sebegoe, the North West provincial chair of the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco).
“Our fathers, brothers, uncles and members of the community are dependent on these mines,” said Sebegoe.