File image: Reuters

Cape Town - The government's policy on mining seems at odds with the National Development Plan (NDP), mining lawyer Peter Leon said on Friday.

“It seems to me that there is huge dissidence between what government is talking about at ministerial level and in terms of the Mangaung resolutions, and how this equates with the NDP,” the Webber Wentzel attorney told the Cape Town Press Club.

He said someone needed to explain how the two were joined, since the NDP was the central point of government's future economic policy.

Leon pointed out inconsistencies between the NDP and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill, which was open for comment until the end of Friday.

One of the proposals in the MPRDA bill was to promote mineral beneficiation, whereby a part of the value derived from asset exploitation stayed inside the country and benefited affected communities.

“The thinking in the ANC is this would be some sort of magic wand to deal with huge problems of unemployment and poverty we have in this country,” Leon said.

“The idea would be that you industrialise; you would force the mining industry to provide strategic minerals downstream the industry at cost-plus prices, not necessarily market prices.”

However, the NDP had seemed sceptical about beneficiation, raising concerns it was energy and capital intensive, and contributed little to job creation. Leon said.

“Most remarkably of all, it (the NDP) says that beneficiating all of the country's minerals is neither feasible nor essential to developing a larger manufacturing sector.”

He said the NDP had recommended that the MPRDA bill ensure a productive, competitive and stable mining environment. - Sapa