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Asisa ‘not consulted’, demands Zwane withdraw Mining Charter

Business Day / 21 SEPTEMBER 2017 / ALLAN SECCOMBE

The Association for Savings and Investment SA says it has not been consulted on the controversial Mining Charter and wants it withdrawn

The Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa), which represents companies managing more than R7.7-trillion in assets, said it had not been consulted on the third-iteration of the Mining Charter and asked Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, to withdraw it.

The charter is the subject of a judicial review brought by the Chamber of Mines, a challenge which prompted Zwane to suspend implementation of the document until a full bench of judges had heard the matter in December, and passed judgment.

Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: REUTERS

The gazetting of the charter’s third version in mid-June wiped R51bn off the market capitalisation of JSE-listed mining shares as investors took fright at the demands for black ownership levels to be increased to 30% from 26% within 12 months; the imposition of a 1% charge on the revenue line to pay empowerment partners ahead of other shareholders and creditors; and onerous demands around procurement.

Leon Campher, CEO of Asisa, said Zwane should appoint a "proper representative body" to renegotiate the charter, which the chamber said had taken scant regard of its input in limited consultation. However, Zwane has said he consulted widely and for an extended period before gazetting the charter and that the majority of those consulted backed the charter, with some calling for greater black ownership of the industry, rising to 51% or more.

"We strongly disagree with a recent statement by Minister Zwane that investors support the revised Mining Charter. Minister Zwane has, in fact, never engaged with Asisa on this and, to the best of our knowledge, there has been no consultation with any of our big member firms," Campher said.

Asisa’s members hold R108bn of listed mining stock, with foreign investors holding R95bn of mining stocks on the JSE, and another R725bn of South African mining companies listed on offshore exchanges. Institutional investors represent 80% of SA’s mining investors.

The demand that outstanding debt incurred by empowerment partners be written off after 10 years by the mining company, as well as the 1% levy on the revenue line, meant the charter "effectively transfers wealth away from South African workers, many of them black … to black economic-empowerment entrepreneurs," said Trevor Chandler, Asisa senior policy adviser on transformation.

Campher echoed warnings from the chamber’s CEO, Roger Baxter, at the African Down Under conference in Australia earlier this month that investment in the South African mining sector was essentially frozen because of uncertainty around the charter and the pending amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, which have been five years in the making.

Campher said, "There is a very real risk that if the charter is implemented in its current form, investors will be forced to disinvest from South African mining. It is incomprehensible that the government would unilaterally impose such a reviewed charter that would clearly have far reaching and devastating implications for so many key stakeholders."


LINK - https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/mining/2017-09-21-asisa-not-consulted-demands-zwane-withdraw-mining-charter/

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