Mosebenzi Zwane

Johannesburg - The Chamber of Mines and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) on Friday reached an agreement at the North Gauteng High Court after Minister Mosebenzi Zwane stated that he does not intend to take any of the steps contemplated in the notice published in the Government Gazette of 19 July. 

This follows a DMR statement on the eve of the Chamber's urgent interdict application against Zwane's notice, indicating that it would not pursue the intent stated in its notice. 

Making its case in the high court on Friday for an urgent interdict to prohibit the minister from implementing the moratorium on the issuing of new permits, the Chamber said Zwane had instructed DMR officials to halt the processing of new mining or prospecting rights applications submitted after 19 July 2017.

However, the DMR denied it had acted on the disputed moratorium on the processing of new mining or prospecting rights applications.

Zwane last month invited representations on his intention to restrict the granting of any new application for prospecting and mining rights and the processing of the applications for renewal of prospecting and mining rights in a bid to “promote the sustainable development of the nation’s mineral resources”.  

The Chamber said given that a media statement does not in itself constitute a formal withdrawal, the parties reached an agreement in court setting out Zwane's undertaking.

Presiding Judge Monama made the agreement a court order, but not before taking issue with the minister’s failure to formally communicate his position in respect of the Chamber’s urgent application. The court order also provides that the Chamber’s application for an urgent interdict is "postponed sine die" and costs are reserved.

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Commenting on the ruling the Chamber said: "The judge remarked that the minister’s approach, both in issuing the intended moratorium notice and in his failure to respond to the application, showed 'the utmost disrespect' for the Constitution, the rule of law and the courts.

"He further remarked that the minister’s conduct serves to tarnish Brand South Africa, and called for the minister to submit an affidavit within 14 days explaining his failure to file an answering affidavit."
The Chamber said while the court order was satisfactory, it did not take away the fact that significant damage had been done to the confidence of the industry as a result of Zwane's "reckless actions".