TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – South Africa’s mining licence cadastre that Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu will launch publicly on March 30 will show who owns mining rights, what type, and for how long, she said on Monday.
It will be posted on a website and can be accessed by anyone, she said.
“If somebody claims they own a licence, you can go on the website and check whether that company exists. It will be able to tell whether it’s a prospecting licence or whether it’s a full mining licence, and the period it has been granted for,” Shabangu told Mining Weekly Online.
“I’ll launch it publicly on March 30 so everyone is aware of what we have done,” she said in an interview at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention.
Shabangu added that the Mineral Resources Department was already running the system to ensure it is working properly.
“It will assist investors,” she said.
Shabangu addressed delegates at the conference as part of a roadshow that the Mineral Resources Department is undertaking along with industry and organised labour to advertise South Africa's mining potential to North American investors.
MINING LAW AMMENDMENTS
Addressing a question from the audience after her speech, Shabangu said President Jacob Zuma had expressed concern to her over investors that apply for an exploration licence in the country only to sell it before developing a mine.
“[Zuma said] we must consider a process where it comes back to the state, because we gave it to you as the state. But that’s the view of the president,” she said.
Asked to elaborate on this, Shabangu commented: “If you wanted to apply for the same right and you wanted to exploit the right, you have been disadvantaged by someone who has passed it on. It is unfair.”
The above will be addressed as one of the amendments to South Africa’s mining legislation the mineral resources department will put before Cabinet in two weeks time.
“It also raises questions around ‘once empowered, always empowered’ – what happens if I’m your empowerment partner and in turn I’m no longer interested?” said Shabangu.
South Africa’s Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), implemented in 2004, requires mining companies to sell a 26% stake in their local projects to black investors, who were excluded from the economy during apartheid.
Shabangu said another key aspect of the MPRDA her department will seek to amend is that of associated minerals.
The issue was brought to the fore last year, when number three platinum miner Lonmin was forced to stop selling the base metals it produces from the same rocks as its platinum, after it failed to convert certain of its old licences to incorporate associated metals production.
“The purpose of reviewing the act is to try address as much uncertainty as we can,” Shabangu commented.
STATE MINING COMPANY
Prominent South African law firm Webber Wentzel partner Peter Leon questioned Shabangu about the newly launched State mining company being exempted from certain provisions in the mining law.
Shabangu said her predecessor, Buyelwa Sonjica, had put these in place, and that she did not agree with them.
“I took a decision that I’m not going to implement those exemptions,” Shabangu said, to a round of applause.
“I have already refused applications from the African Exploration and Mining Financing Company because they were not compliant.”
Shabangu told Mining Weekly Online she was encouraged that state transport company Transnet’s new CEO Brian Molefe indicated an eagerness to aggressively partner with the private sector to boost rail capacity.
“Where I sit, I would like to see new rail routes being opened,” she said.
“We’ve discovered coal in Limpopo, we mustn’t take it to Richards Bay, we must take it to Beira, which will make it more efficient and cost effective.”
Coal exports from Richards Bay have shrunk for the past five years, mainly owing to poor operational performance by Transnet.
“We are going to work together with Public Enterprises Department and the Transport Department, Transnet and Eskom, to make sure that we form a structure ensuring that our infrastructure responds to the mining sector in a way that will maximise our output as a country,” said Shabangu.