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The case brought by the Chamber of Mines, in which it sought a declaratory order on the issue of the consequences of empowerment transactions in the extractive industry, was heard in the High Court in Pretoria recently. Unfortunately, for an industry in desperate need of regulatory stability, the court chose to reserve judgment. The issue is an old one that has been outstanding since the second iteration of the Mining Charter in 2010. As matters stand, the action has done little more than once again illustrate how damaging is the overemphasis on ownership as an empowerment vector. The chamber seeks a decision that allows observance of the "continuing consequences principle" where mining companies can continue to claim empowerment credits even after black owners have cashed out (once empowered, always empowered). The Department of Mineral Resources, however, wants to limit the principle. But it has gone beyond this and not only insisted that black ownership levels be maintained in pe...

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