South Africa's mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe addresses the Investing in African Mining Indaba on February 4. PHOTO: Songezo Ndlendle / African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN - The department of mineral resources is working to improve the online application system for mining licenses to make the process more transparent and efficient, Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

"We are keenly aware of the need to ensure an efficient licensing system to process applications. We are working to improve the online application system -- SAMRAD -- to ensure its transparency and efficiency are enhanced, and that it provides world-class service to investors," Mantashe said. 

SAMRAD, the South African Mineral Resources Administration System, allows the general public to view the locality of applications, rights and permits made or held in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act and allows applications to be submitted electronically.

Mantashe also said that his department remained committed to addressing challenges in its internal processes, which include allegations of double-granting of licenses, improper application of Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act and backlogs in the issuing of licenses. 

He was speaking at the opening of the 25th Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

The department last year closed its regional offices in Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga to investigate allegations of corruption against certain officials that issue Section 54 work stoppage notices to mining companies and demand financial compensation in return for their lifting. 

This corruption has been a strain on mining companies whose applications for mining licences are often delayed by officials who allegedly hold them to ransom with unrealistic demands.

"We are also bolstering capacity in the most affected regions – North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo – to support staff in those regions in the processing of applications," Mantashe said.

"The investigative team that was established to look into these and other related [issues] will conclude its work soon, after which we will be able to provide a way forward."

- African News Agency (ANA)