We are told that representatives of the mining industry came close to walking out of the first round of new negotiations over the Mining Charter, chaired by the new minister. It’s a pity they didn’t. The issue was Gwede Mantashe’s insistence on using the sorry third version of the charter, produced by his disgraced predecessor, as a starting point for the process. Mantashe has promised to deliver a mining charter agreement within three months. He evidently believes the way to do so is to negotiate the many points of difference between the government and industry. This week’s high-court ruling that empowerment deals do not have to be topped up once they reach the specified level (rumoured likely to be raised to 30%) makes a successful compromise between his department and the Chamber of Mines more feasible. But another part of the ruling has to make us wonder why we are bothering with a charter at all. The high court ruled that the requirements of the charter are not legally binding,...

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