South Africa Seeks to Finalize Mining Charter Within Months

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa plans to finalize and gazette a new Mining Charter in the first half of this year -- ideally by the end of May, said Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Certainty on the rules, which are aimed at distributing the wealth and benefits from the industry more widely, would signal an end to a tumultuous chapter in South African mining history. Mining companies furiously opposed the latest version of the charter, published in June last year by Mantashe’s predecessor, and went to court to fight its implementation.

South Africa Seeks to Finalize Mining Charter Within Months

A meeting this past weekend with industry representatives and labor unions was “constructive,” Mantashe said. He acknowledged a “lack of engagement” in the past and said government recognizes a need for regulatory certainty.

The Chamber of Mines -- a lobby group representing producers -- agreed in February to postpone a legal challenge to the new rules after President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to find a solution to the dispute. The group also expressed optimism about Mantashe’s appointment last month.

“We are aligned with the minister’s thinking that transformation, competitiveness and growth are and should be mutually reinforcing goals,” the chamber said in a statement Tuesday. The group welcomed the weekend’s talks, “after an absence of such processes over the last few years.”

Two teams were created following the weekend’s talks, with instructions to report back on transformation and sustainability respectively, Mantashe said. The 2017 mining charter is a basis to begin discussions, although there’s no need to be tied or “married” to it, he said.

The parties indicated they didn’t object to an increase in the mandated minimum black-ownership level from 26 percent to 30 percent that was stipulated in last year’s charter, Mantashe said.

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