Gwede Mantashe Photo: African News Agency/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe, on Tuesday outlined immediate plans and priorities regarding the Department and the mining industry at a press briefing 

The minister met with the Chamber of Mines and unions over the weekend where the charter was discussed and some changes proposed.

Mantashe’s briefing was billed to set the record straight and clarify which changes his department would be proposing for the charter and whether or not the Chamber of Mines finds it satisfactory.

Mantashe told reporters that there was no consultation which led to a trust deficit and that wish is to have the mining charter finalised in the first half of the year. 

"Our view as a department was that we cannot start if there is nothing that has happened. Here's Mining Charter 3. Yes, there's disagreement. Here it is, let's discuss it. If we must amend or correct certain aspects we'll do so...."

The meeting with the industry comes after the Chamber of Mines put on ice a high court challenge of the third iteration of the Mining Charter at the request of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Mantashe described the meeting as "constructive".

"That meeting was robust and open, recognised there was a lack of consultation between the ministry and the partners in the past. This had contributed to a trust deficit..," he said.

"The meeting dealt with disagreements on the Mining Charter 3. It considered areas of convergence and divergence regarding the charter. It also recognised that other affected actors, who were not present at these deliberations, would need to be included as we proceed."

Mantashe said two task teams had been set up - one to focus on transformation in the sector and another to "engage on issues of growth and competitiveness".

The teams have been given three weeks to report back on a "vision for the industry".

In addition, said Mantashe, the Mining Industry Growth Development and Employment Task Team (MIGDETT) would be revived. The forum was established in 2008 to help the industry counteract the effect the financial crisis of that time had on the mining industry.

"This revived structure will enable us, as social partners, to meet regularly and proactively deal with issues confronting the sector, instead of waiting for a crisis to bring us together."

The department is setting up stakeholder meetings in mining communities in Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga and Gauteng, as well as labour-sending communities elsewhere in South Africa.

There are two teams that are drafting on transformation and growth. Mantashe says he does not believe the sector is ailing, but that the 130 year gold industry is declining.

"Mining in South Africa is not equal to gold mining, saying the description of the industry was faulty if it only used the state of gold mining to define the industry in its entirety

In Feburary the judicial review of the Mining Charter was put on hold as the Chamber of Mines, which represents the majority (90%) of stakeholders in the industry, and government agreed to renegotiate the charter.