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Govt, miners need to ‘go back to drawing board’ on Charter – Ramaphosa

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says government and the mining industry need to “go back to the drawing board” to recraft the Mining Charter, following the recent Gazetting of a third version that has caused deep consternation within the industry and precipitated a major sell-off in South African mining stocks.

Speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said there was “clear misalignment” between the industry, as represented by the Chamber of Mines, and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, over whether consultation on the charter had been “full and complete”.

The chamber had already indicated that it would be approaching the courts to interdict the implementation of the charter, which it said had been Gazetted unilaterally and contained requirements that could be unconstitutional.

“What now needs to happen is that both parties must go back to the drawing board and they must sit down and talk about their shared interests, their shared future and how best we can reach a measure of consensus,” Ramaphosa said in response to a question, following an address focused on defining the meaning of ‘radical economic transformation’.

The Deputy President said that, in pursuing policies that were supportive of transformation,  a “premium” should be placed on consensus building and engagement with stakeholders, which “in my book is the best way of taking this country forward”.

“If we lock our eyes on that [shared vision of inclusive growth and transformation] we are then able to say: ‘how do we get there?’. The mining industry needs investors, but at the same time it needs to transform. If you take the view that the two are not mutually exclusive, then you have commonality of interests, you are then able to move forward.”

Ramaphosa indicated that the African National Congress (ANC) had met with the Chamber of Mines and that he was confident that there would be “some measure of agreement on how to take the process forward”.

He also stressed the importance of the sector, despite the fact that its role in the economy, and as an employer, had diminished in recent years and said that both innovation and investment would be required to improve its prospects.

However, more should also be done to add value to the country’s still significant mineral resources through pursuing beneficiation opportunities.

“There is still great opportunity to build more mines and there will be cyclical-type employment opportunities in the mining industry. But we need to come up with strategies and innovations on what we can do with our mineral resources to make our country a better performer. Does it mean we should beneficiate? I certainly support that.”

CHAMBER, ANC MEETING

Shortly before Ramaphosa’s address, a group of Chamber of Mines office bearers, at the chamber’s request, met an ANC delegation led by secretary general Gwede Mantashe, to convey to the ANC delegation their perspectives on the flawed process and content challenges that the Department of Mineral Resources’ new Mining Charter presented to the mining industry.

The chamber office bearers also advised on the court actions that were now being prepared for, making the point that legal action of this sort against the government was a matter of last resort, brought only once all other avenues had failed.

Chamber CEO Roger Baxter assured the ANC delegation that the mining industry remained committed to transformation as a national imperative, and needed to continue on its transformation journey, which had been under way in earnest since the original charter came into effect more than 13 years ago.

Baxter emphasised, however, that transformation needed to be based on workable targets and guidelines that enabled an effective transformation process to proceed within a competitive and growing industry.

“As we have previously indicated, the DMR charter fails in this respect,” Baxter said in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

Source : Mining Weekly