In the six-and-a-half years since the first draft of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRDA) was unveiled, it has been the subject of so many political and procedural wrangles that it is easy to forget precisely what changes it will make to the law now in place. Many now seem to assume that regulatory certainty — the bedrock of investment in the natural resources sector — is best served by passing the bill immediately, warts and all, rather than wasting more time on trying to improve it.

In his maiden budget address in May, newly minted Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe urged Parliament "to proceed faster towards finalisation of this bill, because it is key in entrenching regulatory and policy certainty necessary for investment".

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