The eight-month moratorium on granting prospecting licences is expected to be lifted on Monday with the unveiling of an online application system expected to ensure transparency and reduce turnaround times.
The Department of Mineral Resources said yesterday that the system would “make information available about areas applied for, areas granted, and areas still available for prospecting and mining rights, and mining permit applications readily and globally accessible to the general public”.
The moratorium had been due to be lifted today, the third extension after the February 28 deadline date was missed.
In February, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu announced at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town that the moratorium would be lifted in all provinces accept in Mpumalanga, where it would be extended until September.
Industry players said yesterday that they were anxious to see the new system in practice.
“We are looking forward to the new system, we don’t know how it will work,” Xstrata spokesman Songezo Zibi said.
Roger Baxter, the chief economist for the Chamber of Mines, said: “From the chamber’s point of view… it is an encouraging development, definitely a move in the right direction for the Department of Mineral Resources.”
The moratorium was imposed in September last year to iron out irregularities in the awarding of exploration drilling contracts and the audit of existing exploration activities.
Department spokesman Zingaphi Jakuja said Shabangu would discuss the subject on Monday.
Meanwhile, the debate over the nationalisation of mines dominated the agenda for mining firms in 2010, a review released by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found yesterday.
“Regulatory concerns and the nationalisation debate took a front row seat during 2010 and covered the industry in a blanket of controversy,” PwC African mining leader Hein Boegman said in a statement.
This was revealed in a PwC survey of the local mining industry, while industry players yesterday continued to treat the issue at arm’s length.
“Anglo American is strongly supportive of the government’s position on nationalisation – that nationalisation is not an option the government is considering,” said spokesman Pranill Ramchander.
Zibi said for now the ANC was debating the policy: “Once it (nationalisation) gets to a point of government policy discussion, Xstrata will become involved.” – Business Report