Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe delivering the department of energy budget vote. Picture: GCIS

Johannesburg - The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has reopened its Mpumalanga regional office almost a year after its closure following allegations of corruption and backlogs in the issuing of licenses.

In a statement on Monday, the department advised members of the public that the Mpumalanga regional office's Samrad (South African Mineral Resources Administration System) application system has been reopened. 

But the department was mum on the outcomes of the corruption probe and did not say if action had been taken against any official at the office.

Since the office was closed, all administrative processes such as applications for renewals and graduation of prospecting rights to mining rights, have been handled manually from the head office in Pretoria.

On 31 August 2018, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe closed down the office "until further notice" and launched a probe following feedback on the challenges relating mainly to backlogs in the issuing of licenses and allegations of corruption at offices in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West.

Mantashe's move stemmed from feedback received by the department during provincial engagements on the Mining Charter.

Allegations of double-granting of licenses, improper application of Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act and backlogs in the issuing of licenses were made against the department's officials. 

An official was suspended pending an investigation after abuse of power by allegedly issuing section 54 notices and demanding financial compensation in return for their lifting. 

The department had said that the closure of the office would allow the investigation team set up by Mantashe an opportunity to do its work in the region and provide feedback to the him in due course. 

The online application system Samrad is now open for the lodgment of all applications for prospecting rights, mining permits and mining rights, applications for consent in terms of section 102 of the MPRDA, renewal applications for prospecting rights, mining permits and mining rights, applications for the graduation of prospecting rights to mining rights, as well as for transfer/cession of interest in rights.

Questions sent to the department about the outcomes of its investigations were yet to be responded to on Tuesday.

African News Agency/ANA