Imagine if you bought a house and when you tried to register the purchase it turned out the government had no accurate or transparent system to identify and register your ownership of the property. Fortunately, we do have a functional deeds office, and you can expect your title to be securely registered, even if the process takes a while.

Underlying the deeds office is a form of cadastre — a system that maps and identifies each parcel or erf of land and who has title to it. However, SA is not so lucky when it comes to its mining cadastre. That’s the system that is supposed to map and identify mineral parcels, register who has the right to prospect them and for how long, and enable those who want to explore for copper or chrome or whatever mineral to apply for a licence to do so. It should provide transparency and access as well as the management tools by which the government administers the system — and avoids granting the same parcel to two different geologists, for example,...

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