Urgent call to Cyril: Save our miners from Zwane
The charter is killing us, says Chamber of Mines
The mining industry has asked ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa for a meeting to talk about the impasse over the third iteration of the Mining Charter and its crippling impact on the industry brought on by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
Unless the charter is withdrawn, the Chamber of Mines, whose members extract 90% of South Africa’s annual mineral wealth, will continue with its court challenge in February and remain steadfastly opposed to bilateral talks with Zwane, who has allegations of corruption hanging over him, said chamber president Mxolisi Mgojo at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
Ramaphosa indicated at the World Economic Forum in Davos two weeks ago a willingness to talk about the charter, which the industry says has slowed investment in the local mining sector.The chamber was prepared to meet a delegation of ministers from various ministries including Trade and Industry, Labour and Finance, as well as Mineral Resources, Mgojo said, adding there needed to be ethical leadership represented in the meeting where the best interests of the country and industry had to be foremost in everyone’s minds.
“Let’s not waste time. We need to get this industry back on track,” he said.
“Someone has to say this charter has been withdrawn. It has to actually be withdrawn. That sets everything in motion for a proper discussion,” he said, adding the chamber would halt its court challenge if the charter were discarded.
The chamber had written to Ramaphosa for a meeting after his comment in Davos that the charter must be set aside if it was damaging investment and creating confusion.“He indicated he wanted to engage the mining industry to get it right. We are waiting for the date to meet with him and other parties to kick start the process,” Mgojo said.
The chamber has taken Zwane and the Department of Mineral Resources to court to review and set aside the charter the minister gazetted in mid-June 2017, knocking R51-billion off the market capitalisation of listed mining stocks in a single day. The charter has since been suspended pending the outcome of the three-day court hearing that will start on February 19.
Exploration in South Africa has all but stopped and investment in expansion and new projects has slowed because of the uncertainty about empowerment levels and other onerous conditions in the charter, including a 1% levy on the revenue line to be paid to empowerment partners.
The chamber has started talking to a wide range of participants in the industry, ranging from labour to non-governmental organisations and community bodies, bankers and lawyers on what a good charter would look like, how to make the industry competitive and how best to transform it, said Tebello Chabana, who heads transformation at the chamber.