Mining Weekly

By Martin Creamer

October 27, 2011

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has promised bold new South African mine law reform at a top world forum.

Shabangu told a Commonwealth South Africa-Australia forum in Perth that she was pioneering objective criteria in the processing and granting of both prospecting and mining rights.

Moreover, mining rights would be granted with water-use licences and environmental authorisation, to create a single integrated licencing system and, for the first time, rights holders would be allowed to subdivide and sell portions of their rights.

“These are critical steps in our attempt to ensure that our mining regulatory system conforms to international best practice,” the Minister said.

The construct of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act was being beefed up to remove ambiguities and possibilities for the multiplicity of interpretations and South Africa’s new electronic Samrad mineral-rights application system had transparently processed more than 2 000 applications since being introduced on April 18.

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) was also currently reviewing the Mine Health and Safety Act to remove ambiguity and to strengthen enforcement.

In a reiteration of her forceful anti-nationalisation stance, she reminded South Africa’s naysayers that South Africa had successfully pulled itself from the economic brink in 1994.

“We were successful in doing it then and I’m convinced we’ll be successful in doing it again,” she said.

The DMR had completed its beneficiation implementation plans for the iron/steel and energy sectors, and would finalise its implementation plans early next year for the beneficiation of pigments and titanium metal production, autocatalytic converter and diesel particulate manufacture, and jewellery fabrication.

Shabangu was pleased that the Commonwealth heads of government had afforded South Africa a chance to present its case.

“We’re part of the global community of nations, with all the benefits and obligations that go with it,” Shabangu said, adding that South Africa was driven to better the lives of all of its citizens with the help of its vast mineral resources.

It had not escaped the DMR that some of the biggest players in the resources sector owed their very existence to South African origins.

Meanwhile, as host to the global 17th Conference of the Partners climate-change summit, South Africa had an extraordinary obligation to lead from the front and create a mining industry that was in tune with international environmental conventions and agreements.

Tensions between communities and mining companies had to be resolved as a matter of top priority, with full consideration for the welfare of the communities and workers.

In addition to their contribution to foreign exchange earnings and taxes, she urged mining companies to continue to work with South Africa to give effect to the reasonable targets that were spelled out in the Mining Charter, including optimal local procurement, the promotion of entrepreneurship and the elimination of single-sex hostels.

“These are not luxuries; they’re a critical part of our attempts to right the wrongs of the past,” she said.

Despite the long and difficult road ahead, she was convinced that a South Africa could be forged that belonged to all the people living in it, as promised both in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.