Cape Town - The Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) will be endorsed in February, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said on Wednesday.

Addressing the SA Coal Export Conference in Cape Town, she said the portfolio committees of mineral resources, water and environmental affairs were having a joint sitting on Wednesday.

The committees were going “clause-by-clause” through the MPRDA and finalising its links to the National Environment Management Act.

“As Parliament rises on the 14th (February)... immediately after that, they will table that (MPRDA) in Parliament where the National Assembly will finally endorse and conclude the MPRDA.”

The amendments to the act seek to co-ordinate the permit applications across the mining, water and environmental affairs departments.

Shabangu said mining companies would soon be able to apply for rights and begin construction within 300 days.

“We are now saying, within a year, you can come and do business and mining in South Africa.”

She also reassured companies that there was no move to clamp down on coal exports despite it being a strategic resource.

“We will continue to be a market which contributes to (coal) exports. We will be (in) that space even if we do have coal as a strategic asset,” she said.

“But we will also have to make sure that the local supply is guaranteed through Eskom and various other players.”

Shabangu said there were no plans at the moment to impose quotas or levies on coal being exported.

When asked a question about the future of coal exports, Shabangu said she could not commit.

“You can't hold me to that. You know my job in this particular portfolio. I'm counting days,” she said.

Should there be any export taxes in the future, they would need to be informed by economic conditions.

“I believe if we work together, when it comes to coal exports, in a sincere and fair way and agree on a formula which will work and be acceptable to the coal industry, we might find we do not need taxes because the system itself might be more efficient.”

Shabangu pointed to the development of infrastructure at the Waterberg coalfield in Limpopo as an integral step in ensuring energy supply in the future.

The coalfield is said to contain a large portion of the country's remaining coal and requires a water supply, rail capacity and urban planning. - Sapa