Much rides on the Mining Charter and amendments to South African mining laws that new Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe is pushing hard to finalise. Not only are the major companies awaiting the outcome, but junior miners and explorers are anxious for sensible laws to revive the moribund sector. The exploration sector was dealt a devastating blow when the third version of the Mining Charter was gazetted by then mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane in June 2017. It demanded 51% empowerment ownership of prospecting rights, arguably the riskiest and costliest segment in the mineral cycle. That charter has been suspended while Mantashe, who took over the ministry in February, renegotiates a new document to steer racial transformation of SA’s mining sector. Bernard Swanepoel, former Harmony Gold CEO and now a mining entrepreneur and the chairman of the Small Business Initiative, has said that the junior sector should be excluded from parts of the requirements of the charter because of ...

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