The open-cast mining operations at Nkomati Nickel Mine, African Rainbow Minerals. The North Gauteng High Court will preside over a hearing on the Mining Charter today.Photo: Supplied
The open-cast mining operations at Nkomati Nickel Mine, African Rainbow Minerals. The North Gauteng High Court will preside over a hearing on the Mining Charter today.Photo: Supplied
The open-cast mining operations at Nkomati Nickel Mine, African Rainbow Minerals. The North Gauteng High Court will preside over a hearing on the Mining Charter today.Photo: Supplied
The open-cast mining operations at Nkomati Nickel Mine, African Rainbow Minerals. The North Gauteng High Court will preside over a hearing on the Mining Charter today.Photo: Supplied
JOHANNESBURG - In an about turn the Chamber of Mines yesterday agreed with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to postpone today’s court application for a judicial review and the setting aside of the Reviewed Mining Charter following intervention by newly elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The postponement comes days after Ramaphosa said the mining industry had massive potential for job creation and also promised to give negotiations with all stakeholders a chance in a bid to resolve the impasse.

The President said this during his maiden State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Friday.

In the Sona Ramaphosa committed to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the charter “to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa”.

“By working together, in a genuine partnership, underscored by trust and a shared vision, I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a Charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy,” Ramaphosa said.

The Presidency said in a statement yesterday that it had been in discussion with the Chamber to resolve the impasse over the mining charter and to facilitate a process of developing a charter that all stakeholders can support and defend.

“The Chamber of Mines, on behalf of its members, has agreed jointly with the Department of Mineral Resources to postpone its court application in respect of the Reviewed Mining Charter, which was due to be heard in the High Court on February 19 to 21. The postponement serves to allow parties the space to engage and find an amicable solution,” the Presidency said in a statement.

Encouraged

The Presidency also said it together with the Chamber had also approached the other applicants and have encouraged them to similarly postpone their applications.

A full bench of judges including Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Dunstan Mlambo, was scheduled to preside over the three-day court hearing on the controversial third version of the mining charter in the North Gauteng High Court which was scheduled for today.

Chamber President, Mxolisi Mgojo, said in a statement that the Chamber welcomed Ramaphosa’s intervention.

“We welcome the President’s intervention, and his commitment to engaging meaningfully with stakeholders in the industry - and others - on a New Mining Charter.”

The chamber applied for a judicial review and the setting aside of the charter saying it had been unilaterally imposed and developed.

The impasse has resulted in the relationship between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and government sinking to an all-time low.

Earlier on Friday, Elize Strydom, the chief negotiator of the chamber, told journalists in Joburg that she was “quietly confident” that the chamber had a solid case.

“We have always maintained that we want a charter that will strike a balance between transformation and the sustainability of the industry. The current charter is unlawful and unconstitutional,” said Strydom.

Communities were also applicants in the court process and were expected to ask the court to set aside the current charter following failure to meaningfully engage with mining-affected communities.

They are the Sefikile, Lesethleng, Babina Phuthi Ba Ga-Makola and Kgatlu, located in Northwest and Limpopo provinces, which are represented by Lawyers for Human Rights.

In addition, the Mining Affected Communities United in Action, Women Affected by Mining United in Action and the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, also applied for the charter to be scrapped.

- BUSINESS REPORT