Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has moved to undo one of the most damaging elements in his predecessor’s version of the Mining Charter, releasing exploration companies from onerous black ownership conditions that the industry partially blames for a drop in activity to levels not seen in about five decades. Mosebenzi Zwane, Mantashe’s predecessor who was closely linked to the Gupta family at the centre of state capture allegations, issued a third version of the charter in June 2017, obliging prospecting companies to have 51% black ownership, effectively bringing already volatile levels of exploration to the lowest level since at least the 1960s. Reviving exploration is essential to develop new mines in SA, where the mining sector contributes about 8% to the economy and employs more than 460,000 people. Mantashe gazetted a fresh version of the third charter on September 27. However, it still created uncertainty in the sector about what it meant for exploration companies. Ask...

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