Mining companies travelled a rocky road to achieving their first 26% black economic empowerment (BEE) ownership target by 2014. With that experience, achieving another 4% may be a little easier for some, though no cheaper, and not within the unrealistic 12-month deadline set in the new mining charter. For companies counting historical transactions it will be far harder. The new charter is highly prescriptive. An applicant for a new mining right must have at least 30% “black person” shareholding — to be 8% held by an employee share ownership plan, 8% by mine communities and 14% by BEE entrepreneurs. It says all existing rights holders must top up to 30% within 12 months, irrespective of historical transactions, though it does not have to be in the 8:8:14 proportion. The nonrecognition of historical transactions is being challenged in court by the Chamber of Mines. The charter says BEE shares can only be transferred to another black person and black shareholders may not be diluted by ...

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