Mining Charter central to economic transformation

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says he expects robust engagements with stakeholders on the draft reviewed Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining and Minerals Industry, 2016.

The Minister said this when he tabled the Department of Mineral Resource’s Budget Vote in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Last Friday, Minister Zwane published the draft reviewed Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining and Minerals Industry, 2016 in the Government Gazette for public comment.

The draft proposes, among others, an ownership element retention of a minimum of 26% empowerment threshold – which essentially means that all new mining rights should be 26% owned by black entrepreneurs, workers and mining communities.

Interested parties have until 31 May to submit their written inputs and comments.

“We remain resolute on these objectives, and today’s engagement provides us with a platform to outline how we will strive to achieve them, while mindful of the challenges posed by the global economy.

“Given the cyclical nature of the industry, spring will come and we must develop material conditions for a greater portion of the population to benefit. In this regard, the State of the Nation Address (SONA) has provided us our marching orders. All the issues pertaining to the department which were highlighted in the SONA are receiving our attention,” he said.

SA’s R50 trillion mineral wealth

The Minister said, meanwhile, that South Africa has world-class mineral resources with a wealth of minerals such as manganese, platinum group metals and chrome.

“Our mineral wealth is estimated at R50 trillion, excluding energy commodities and exploration potential.

“We are working with key stakeholders to develop a plan focused on the development of these minerals in a manner that benefits investors, workers and communities alike,” he said.

The Minister said the current economic downturn, which was compounded by a drop in commodity prices, among others, has had a negative impact on the beneficiation of diamonds, gold and platinum.

He said the department has analysed the decline in diamond production as well as diamond cutting and polishing activities over the years.

Minister Zwane said the cutting and polishing industries have not been performing expected levels in recent years.

“As a remedy to this situation, the State Diamond Trader has entered into a partnership with the Mining Qualification Authority to facilitate business growth and support for 25 youths in training in Italy.

“These young South Africans commenced training in Italy in September 2015 and will complete the training in 2017. As part of the initiative, the students will be enrolled in the watchmaker programme in Switzerland to further their learning and exposure in watchmaking,” he said.

The Minister also said that the Mining Qualification Authority has also developed a watchmaking curriculum, which is currently awaiting approval from the South African Qualifications Authority.

He said this will be a ground-breaking programme taught for the first time in South African institutions.