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Chamber of Mines disappointed with Zwane’s snub over new mining rights

The minister announced the withdrawal in a statement on Thursday night, but he was strongly criticised by the high court.

FILE: Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – The Chamber of Mines says it’s disappointed to learn about Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s withdrawal of the moratorium suspending the issuing of new mining and prospective rights on a social media platform.

Although the minister said last month that he intended to suspend the granting of applications for prospective and mining rights, he announced on Thursday night, that based on various submissions from industry players, he will not go ahead with the moratorium.

The industry body was in court on Friday, seeking an urgent interdict to Zwane’s proposed move but the minister himself failed to file an answering affidavit despite having filed a motion to oppose the court action.

He also failed to formally inform the court on his withdrawal of the planned moratorium.

The Chamber of Mines’ Dr Elize Strijdom says: “It is disappointing that the minister doesn’t hold us in enough regard to contact us directly or to make use of his lawyers and advocates to engage us in terms of proper court procedures to explain what his intentions are.

“We have to pick up his latest intentions through Twitter.”

At the same time, the chamber has threatened Zwane with more court action if he fails to stick to his undertaking to scrap a planned moratorium on new mining and prospective rights.

Given that the minister’s media statement cancelling the planned moratorium doesn’t constitute a formal withdrawal, his legal council and the chamber of mines on Friday agreed that his undertaking be made an order of the court.

Strijdom says if the minister breaches that order, they will drag him back to court.

“But should he not adhere to that, then this application for urgent relief that we had filed with the court, we can bring back to court.”

On Friday, Judge Ramarumo Monama criticised Zwane for disrespecting the court and the Constitution, saying his actions damaged the country’s brand.

He gave the minister 14 days to explain why he failed to file an answering affidavit to the Chamber of Mines request for an interdict.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)