Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The government has backtracked on the immediate implementation of the contentious Mining Charter, a move welcomed by the Chamber of Mines on Friday.

The chamber said in a statement that Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his department had given a written undertaking not to implement or apply the provisions of the 2017 reviewed charter, pending judgment in the urgent interdict application brought by the chamber.

“The minister has furthermore undertaken that, in the event of any breach of the above undertaking, the chamber can set the urgent interdict application down for hearing on 48 hours’ notice to the minister,” the chamber said in a statement.

Based on this undertaking, the chamber has acceded to the department’s request for extra time to prepare its answering affidavit to the interdict application and for the hearing to take place on a later date. The hearing was scheduled for Tuesday July 18; the parties have now asked the deputy judge president of the High Court to allocate a hearing date in September 2017.

Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter said this was a satisfactory arrangement for the chamber and the industry, as the primary objective of the interdict application was to ensure that the charter does not come into effect, pending a court application to have it reviewed and set aside.

Baxter reiterated the chamber and industry’s commitment to transformation, and stressed that it was “imperative that meaningful and lasting transformation be undertaken in a way that ensures the sustainability and growth of the industry”.

The chamber’s application to have the 2017 charter reviewed in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Constitution will be lodged as soon as possible after judgment has been handed down in the chamber’s urgent interdict application. Meanwhile, the chamber’s application for a declaratory order in respect of the recognition of prior black economic empowerment (BEE) transactions — the “once empowered, always empowered” principle — has been re-enrolled for hearing on November 9 and 10 2017.

The charter was criticised as dealing a death blow to the industry, which is one of the few growth sectors in the economy. Mining companies would have had 12 months to implement its provisions, requiring their BEE shareholding to increase from 26% to 30%, and the payment of 1% of revenue derived from new mining rights to BEE shareholders prior to any shareholder distribution.

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