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Constitutional Court empowers mining communities in South Africa

The Constitutional Court in South Africa has ruled that mining communities can now exercise their constitutional rights to oppose mining companies who bypass them in favour of working through traditional leaders.  

This is according to the Mining Forum of South Africa (MFSA) – an organisation that “seeks to be an agent of transformation in the mining industry of South Africa through ensuring that mining entities fully implement the Mining Charter, Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) and their Social Labour Plans (SLPs).”

The MFSA welcomes the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the powers of traditional leaders to strike deals with mining companies without community consultation and consent.

The Forum notes that this is the norm in many mining communities wherein mining companies secretly do deals with local traditional leaders without consultation with the community members.

“We are of the view that, this ruling by the constitutional court to set aside the illegal irrational arrangements made between traditional leaders and mining companies and to make such a ruling that ensures that the broader community is consulted before any mining activities could take place, is very key and will set precedence in many of our mining communities in South Africa,” says MFSA president Ramoba Blessings.

Mining communities and workers are the most directly affected by the negative impacts of mining and should, therefore be consulted at all times by mining companies. These two groups must be included and consulted meaningfully in both legislation, SLP drafting, policy-making and any other aspects that the mines intend to do.

Community consultation is very vital, as it enables communities directly affected by mining operations to have a meaningful participation in the process and we reiterate, that communities have the rights to be consulted on any mining activities planned to take place on their indigenous land.