‘Bucket of cold water’ for state after Mining Charter court ...

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‘Bucket of cold water’ for state after Mining Charter court ruling

Decision, which holds the charter is a policy document, underscores principle of once empowered always empowered

Karl Gernetzky

The high court has set aside some of the most contentious clauses of SA’s 2018 Mining Charter and entrenched the principle that companies can retain their empowered status even if their partners exit.

In a victory for the industry, the court said the charter was a policy document, not a binding instrument of law. Disputes on the principle of “once empowered, always empowered” have strained relationships between the government and mining houses. Mining companies have also been reluctant to boost investment, even with commodity prices booming, as the issue was uncertain. 

The Minerals Council SA had approached the court for =a judicial review of the Mining Charter’s third iteration, arguing that the requirement for mining houses to top up black ownership levels when seeking transfers or renewals of mining rights was flawed. According to rules in the charter, miners previously compliant with BEE thresholds would need to find new partners if the current ones sold their shares...

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