Cham­ber bid gets al­lies

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Di­neo Faku

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.

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