MINERAL Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. African News Agency (ANA)
JOHANNESBURG – Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe yesterday hit out at the Minerals Council South Africa, describing the lobby group as mischievous in its legal battle to have certain aspects of the third version of the mining charter overturned.

In his first public appearance since he was appointed the head of the amalgamated ministry last week, an emboldened Mantashe told delegates of the Junior Indaba in Johannesburg that the council should place the legal process aside.

Mantashe said that all stakeholders, including the council, signed off on the charter before it was gazetted in September last year.

“They (Minerals Council) have taken us to court for small issues they have raised. I think it is more mischief than a legal process. It (mining) is an industry that is not used to stability. They thrive better when we are at each other's throats and we fight because they get sympathy from society. To make mining work, we must get to what we know best, mining. Court cases and everything must be set aside,” said Mantashe.

In March, the council, which was formerly known as the Chamber of Mines, approached the courts for a judicial review of the mining charter citing certain issues, including that past deals were not recognised.

Mantashe previously said through the charter the government aimed to bring stability to the mining industry that was battered by price instability which has seen large-scale job losses.

Minerals council senior executive for public affairs and transformation Tebello Chabana earlier told the indaba that the group wanted to resolve procurement aspects in the charter.

“Our members are saying that we are not rejecting the Department of Mineral Resources,” Chabana said. “It is not like in 2017, when we dismissed the charter outright. We are continuing the process of engaging.”

Chabana said the fact that the industry was expected to meet the local procurement targets in five years was one of the reasons the industry had approached the courts.

The council, which represents 90 percent of the local industry, approached the courts over its concerns about recognition of past empowerment transactions.

It said it was worried about the procurement provisions, including the local procurement target of 70 percent of goods and 80 percent of services from black-owned companies would likely push up operating costs.

Peter Leon, a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, said the charter imposed unnecessary obligations in the mining industry.

“I think that the charter adds an excessive burden on the industry,” Leon said.

Meanwhile, PricewaterhouseCoopers released its 2019 Mine Survey yesterday in which it said the Top 40 increased revenue by 8 percent, buoyed by higher commodity prices and marginally improved production.

“They also boosted cash flows, paid down debt and provided a record dividend to shareholders of $43 billion. Forecasts indicate continued steady performance in 2019. Revenue should remain stable, with weaker prices for coal and copper offsetting marginally higher production and higher average prices for iron ore,” the report said.

However, market valuations fell 18 percent, over 2018.

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