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Differences over transformation in mining sector

South African
mining industry
“’ no smiles over
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 05 July 2010 – It has emerged that unions, mining houses and government are not on the same page when it comes to transformation in the mining sector, Fin24 reports.

Revealing this here, Fin24 says deliberations about the “once-empowered, always-empowered” principle had delayed the signing last week of the mining declaration document, which re-commits the industry to accelerating implementation of black economic empowerment (BEE).

The principle implies that even if black investors sell their shares in a white-owned company, the company does not lose its BEE status.

South African Mining Development Association (Samda) chairperson Nchaka Moloi said: “The principle was a bone of contention prior to the meeting in which we signed the declaration.”

Samda represents junior miners and black-owned mining firms, and was a signatory to the 13-point declaration. Other signatories were the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), the Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM), Solidarity and the United Association of SA (Uasa).

Chamber spokesperson Jabu Maphalala, said his organisation had not tried to push the “once-empowered, always-empowered” principle into the declaration document. He stated that the chamber – the mouthpiece for the mining industry – wanted clarity on some of the wording in the document, but declined to elaborate.

DMR spokesperson Jeremy Michaels refused to be drawn into the matter, saying: “What is important to us is that the agreement has been signed and we want to implement it now.”

The declaration was signed after the DMR had conducted an extensive review of transformation in the mining industry. The review, which is yet to be published, shows that 9% of the sector’s equity was black-owned last year, some distance from the 15% target set by the BEE charter.