Chamber of Mines postpones fight against Mining Charter
Chamber agrees to give negotiations a chance after talks with the Presidency and an undertaking to rework the controversial third iteration of the Mining Charter
The Chamber of Mines agreed on Sunday after talks with the new Presidency to suspend its court case to review the controversial third iteration of the Mining Charter gazetted and then suspended by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
New President Cyril Ramaphosa extended an olive branch to the chamber during his maiden state of the nation address on Friday to open talks around the charter to end an impasse that has been in place between the industry body and Department of Mineral Resources since the charter was gazetted in June 2017.
“The Chamber of Mines, on behalf of its members, has agreed jointly with the Department of Mineral Resources to postpone its court application in respect of the Reviewed Mining Charter, which was due to be heard in the High Court on February 19 to 21. The postponement serves to allow parties the space to engage and find an amicable solution,” the Presidency said in a statement.
The chamber's CEO Roger Baxter has said the industry body would not withdraw its court case as long as the third version of the charter was not withdrawn and scrapped by Zwane.
He has also said the chamber would not engage in bilateral talks with Zwane, who it says has negotiated in bad faith around the charter and that Zwane is shrouded in allegations of inappropriate behaviour related to the Gupta family as key players in state corruption.
“Following the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Friday, February 16 2018, the Presidency has been in discussion with the Chamber of Mines to resolve the impasse over the Mining Charter and to facilitate a process of developing a new Mining Charter that all stakeholders can support and defend,” the presidency said.
The chamber said it was only due to the intervention of Ramaphosa that it had agreed to suspend its court case.
"In line with the spirit and the tone of the message as stated by the president during Sona on February 16, the Chamber of Mines is agreeable to the request by the Presidency to give negotiations a chance. The Chamber of Mines wishes to reiterate its position that only a negotiated Mining Charter taking on board the views and inputs of all key stakeholders will enjoy the support and endorsement of all stakeholders," the chamber said.
"For the Chamber of Mines, and the industry, legal recourse was always a last resort, intended to get the parties to the table, and the sooner we do that the better for the industry and our country,” said chamber president Mxolisi Mgojo.
The Presidency and the Chamber of Mines have approached the seven other applicants, as well as two amici curiae (the National Union of Mineworkers and Solidarity) to advise them of this development, and have encouraged them similarly to postpone their applications.
This is in line with Ramaphosa’s commitment during Sona to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the charter “to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa”.
“By working together, in a genuine partnership, underscored by trust and a shared vision, I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy,” Ramaphosa said.