The Chamber of Mines appears to have been blindsided by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) in respect of the DMR's proposed changes to the draft Reviewed Mining Charter published in April this year, according to law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.
The DMR recently announced that the final version of the Reviewed Mining Charter would be ‘materially different’ from the April version and it advised that the minister intended to gazette the final Reviewed Mining Charter next month.
“It remains to be seen what steps the Chamber and other interested and affected parties will take to protect their interests,” said Peter Leon, co-chair and partner at Herbert Smith Freehills.
On 16 November 2016, during a briefing to the National Assembly's portfolio committee on mineral resources on the status and revised content of the April Draft Charter, the DMR indicated it had considered all 60 submissions, and confirmed that it would consult with communities and traditional authorities before finalising and publishing the Reviewed Mining Charter.
Leon says that while it was widely accepted that 'Mining Charter III', the third iteration of the broad-based black economic empowerment charter specific to the mining industry, would be published in 2016, it was expected that industry stakeholders would be consulted and included in its preparation, as they had been for the first and second versions of the Charter in 2002 and 2010.
Instead, those affected by the implications of the April Draft Charter were confined to making comments on the version already published by the minister by no later than 31 May 2016.
“However, notwithstanding the 31 May 2016 deadline, the DMR continued bilateral discussions with the Chamber over a two-month period, with the last meeting taking place in July 2016.”
“The public reaction by the Chamber in response to the DMR's latest proposals suggests that the DMR either failed to consult with the Chamber or that the DMR ignored concerns raised by the Chamber in relation to the DMR's latest proposals,” says Leon.