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Zwane agrees to withhold Charter as Chamber drops interdict

South African Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane

SOUTH Africa’s Chamber of Mines will not proceed with an interdict of the redrafted Mining Charter after the mines minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, agreed in writing that the document would not be implemented until its review was heard – an event scheduled for December 13 and 14 before a full panel of judges.

The Chamber said in statement that the agreement had been struck after it had been approached by legal counsel representing Zwane. The Chamber brought an urgent interdict against the Charter in which it argued the redraft brought provisions that had never been discussed with the mining industry. The application for the interdict was to be heard in the High Court on September 14 and 15.

“In terms of the agreement, the Minister of Mineral Resources has given a written undertaking that the Reviewed Mining Charter will not be implemented until judgment has been handed down in respect of the Chamber’s review application, which has rendered the granting of an interdict by the court not necessary at this stage,” the Chamber said.

According to the Chamber spokeswoman,  Charmane Russell, “The Chamber’s objective in bringing the urgent interdict was to suspend the implementation of the DMR’s reviewed charter. In effect, the DMR’s approach to the Chamber has done exactly that,” she said.

“Importantly, we now have a very clear and agreed schedule going forward, which will see this case being heard before the end of the year. This again, is a significant ‘win’ for the industry,” said Russell.

Interestingly, the Chamber also clipped the wings of Zwane’s public relations campaign most recently demonstrated at the Africa Down Under conference in Perth, Australia, in which he said the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) redraft of the Charter had been accepted by every investor he had consulted.

Zwane also said at the conference that “… the 2017 Mining Charter is law, and all right-holders in South Africa are expected to implement it” even though he had earlier given verbal agreement not to implement the provisions of the Charter whilst the application for the urgent interdict was in motion. This has heaped further confusion as to the status of mining regulations in South Africa.

As a result, the Minister has agreed to make reference to this written undertaking to the Chamber when referring in public to the ‘Reviewed Mining Charter’. He must also note that the Chamber has brought review proceedings to set aside the Charter.

“In the interests of expediting the review process, which is the industry’s primary focus, the Chamber has agreed that the matter be heard on 13 and 14 December 2017 by a full bench of judges,” said the Chamber. “The Minister’s written undertaking will be presented to the High Court of Gauteng (Pretoria) on 14 September 2017 for noting,” it added