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Zwane: Chamber of Mines claims against Mining Charter overstated

The minister filed his responding affidavit in the North Gauteng High Court on Monday slamming complaints made by the Chamber in its court application.

FILE: Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has accused the Chamber of Mines of attempting to block the effective and meaningful participation of black people in the mining and minerals industry.

The minister filed his responding affidavit in the North Gauteng High Court on Monday, slamming complaints made by the chamber in its court application.

Last month, the chamber went to court seeking to prevent the implementation of the new law which increases the minimum threshold for black ownership of mining companies to 30%.

In the court papers, Zwane indicates that the Mining Charter was never meant to be an aspirational document as suggested by the Chamber of Mines.

He says that the chamber's allegations of the harm that the charter could cause is overstated, describing as bizarre the industry body’s complaint that R50 billion has been wiped off mining stocks.

The minister also argues that the chamber has no grounds to interdict the charter, saying that his department had 17 extensive engagements with the industry body between March 2016 and March 2017.

CHAMBER OF MINES DISAPPOINTED WITH ZWANE

At the same time, the chamber said it is disappointed to learn about 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 said: “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.”

The chamber has also 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 said 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)