Gwede Mantashe, the new mineral resources minister, says all the right things about the new Mining Charter he is helping to craft, but there is a growing sense of disquiet it will not be the panacea to the industry’s ills so many hoped for in February. While the participants in the charter talks are bound by confidentiality, word is leaking out that while Mantashe is saying all the right things publicly, behind closed doors the situation is far less rosy. The secretive nature of the talks has given rise to alarming rumours about increased ownership levels, up from 30% in the discredited third version of the charter, which itself was an unexpected increase from 26% in the first two charters. There are also rumblings that while Gwede and his team are listening to the industry’s messages and drive to make SA’s mining internationally competitive, they are not hearing and there are deep rifts on a number of key issues.

These could be contested in court if the gazetted version of th...

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