The current clamour for redistribution of land in SA has heightened interest in land reform and placed raging sociopolitical discourse at centre stage. During his keynote address at the African Mining Indaba, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe stated that mining activities must be conducted in a “socially responsible way”, and that the mining sector should ensure companies focus on “the interests of all stakeholders, including those who live in mining areas”. Although mining is a major contributor to the South African economy, it goes without saying that the granting and execution of a mining right represents a grave invasion of a landowner’s right of use and enjoyment of the surface. In this regard, the provisions of section 5(3) of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) echo two fundamental common law principles. Both foster the co-existence of the mining right holder’s right to access the land to which the mining right relates, and the obligation of t...

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