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Door left open on black mine ownership


New Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has muddied the waters around ownership levels in mining at a time when he is setting out to create certainty after years of instability under his predecessor.

At a media conference this week Mantashe did not give a clear answer on whether the government would push required black ownership of mining companies beyond the 30% that is under negotiation with the industry, labour and communities, and which has increased from the 14-year-old level of 26%.

Flexible: Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, who said regulatory and policy certainty was a priority for the start of his tenure, indicated that the government was flexible in its approach to the third version of the Mining Charter. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

Mantashe said he wanted the new Mining Charter completed and gazetted by June and the promulgation of the amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act to be expedited.

He singled out regulatory and policy certainty as a priority task for the start of his tenure. He was, however, vague when asked whether the 30% target would be nudged up.

The target set out in the controversial, and now suspended, third iteration of the charter, which the Chamber of Mines took to court to be reviewed and scrapped, was not an issue at weekend talks between the industry and labour, he said.

"There is no problem around the 30%. That’s it," he said.

"Whether we will ever revise that issue is an issue that is ongoing," he said.

"My argument is [for] 30% [black ownership]. People were arguing 30% is not substantial and I said to them [at the weekend] 30% is not substantial if it’s against 100%, but if you move to 30% from zero, that is a substantial move.

"If we grow it then it will be an issue that is happening systematically as we empower people, and as people get empowered there will be more capacity to grow the ownership of disadvantaged South Africans," he said.

Mantashe, who was sworn in as mines minister on February26, replacing Mosebenzi Zwane, said after a meeting of the Department of Mineral Resources, organised business and labour at the weekend that two teams had been set up to explore transformation and competitiveness. They would report back on April 10.

Mantashe said the department was "not married" to the third iteration of the charter, which Zwane suspended after the Chamber of Mines move.

The chamber broke its silence over the weekend’s talks, conceding they were "robust". "The industry is appreciative of the real engagement that minister Mantashe began at the weekend, after an absence of such processes over the last few years," it said.

"We look forward to creative thinking on transformation from all stakeholders that might result in some aspects of a new charter being approached in ways different from the template of the first two iterations of the charter that have operated since 2004," it said.


LINK : https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/mining/2018-03-22-door-left-open-on-black-mine-ownership/

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