The cabinet has approved the third version of the Mining Charter and has agreed to ask parliament to withdraw changes to a key mining law, paving the way to improve regulatory certainty for investors.

It is understood the long-awaited charter, which sets ownership and transformation targets for the sector, may be published as soon as Friday in the government gazette. The third version of the charter has been extensively debated since mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe was appointed in February.

The cabinet also approved asking parliament to withdraw the long-delayed and problematic bill amending the Mineral & Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), which has been under discussion since 2013, allowing for the separation of the oil and gas sectors in the act and putting them into their own law. Earlier this month energy minister Jeff Radebe expressed his opposition to plans to withdraw the amendment bill, saying he wants it expedited.

Both are positive steps to improving the regulatory climate, says Jonathan Veeran, a partner at Webber Wentzel. Investor-friendly regulations are seen as crucial in order to improve the sector’s fortunes.

In the latest Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies, SA ranked 48th out of 91 jurisdictions for overall "investment attractiveness", with “uncertainty concerning the administration, interpretation and enforcement of existing regulations" a big hurdle. On this specific indicator, SA tied with Zimbabwe as the 10th worst in the world.