Mosebenzi Zwane. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Mosebenzi Zwane. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane upped the ante in the fight with the Chamber of Mines over the controversial third iteration of the Mining Charter.

On Wednesday Zwane gazetted a proposal to restrict the granting of new mining and permitting rights as well as the transfer of mineral rights between companies.

In a government gazette, Zwane said that, "having regard to the national interest and the need to promote the sustainable development of the nation’s mineral resources", he invited interested parties to make representations on his proposal.

"The intended restriction shall not be applicable to applications received and accepted before the date of publication of this notice, subject to the condition that such application, if granted, shall not immediately upon granting subject the right holder to the requirements of the Mining Charter 2017," Zwane said.

The proposal would effectively freeze all mining transactions and bring further uncertainty and distress to an industry undermined by prolonged regulatory dithering around amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, which have been in the works since 2012, and the new Mining Charter.

One mining lawyer suggested Zwane was trying to force the chamber into making concessions around the new charter.

When Zwane gazetted the third iteration of the charter on June 15, the local mining sector lost R51bn on the JSE, as investors digested the document, which stipulated mining companies had to grow their empowerment ownership levels to 30% from 26% within 12 months, as well as skim 1% off their revenue line to pay empowerment shareholders.

The chamber has approached the court to interdict the implementation of the charter and will file an application for a judicial review of the document.

The chamber said last week the ministry had agreed to suspend implementation of the charter given the legal process to interdict it.

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