The 2017 Mining Indaba is not just a casual shindig for the mining industry’s who’s who, clad in pin-stripped suit, but it’s rare opportunity where the industry is taking stock of its operations, more so with the commodity prices still at their lowest.
Two industry experts express particularly interesting views on developments in the South African Mining sector.
In relation to environmental issues discussed at the opening of Mining Indaba 2017, Garyn Rapson, a Partner in the Mining Sector Group at Webber Wentzel, says that a lot has been done to improve regulatory efficiencies but draft regulations still need to be finalised to close the loop for the One Environmental System (OES). “Investors are keen for the process to be finalised to align with other African jurisdictions who have already removed many of the regulatory hurdles encountered when setting up operations.”
According to the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane, the ministry remains committed to preventing illegal mining activities, particularly with the delay of water use licences being awarded, says Rapson. “Due to administrative delays, companies find themselves in an unfortunate position where they are forced to start their operations without these licences in place, which puts these companies in a precarious position as they can be held criminally or administratively liable.”
Kenneth Coster, a Partner in the Mining Sector Group at Webber Wentzel, says: “When considering Health & safety and employment law during Mining Indaba 2017, it will be interesting to see how the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) will implement section 54 stoppage instructions in future given the criticism levelled against the Inspectorate in the AngloGold Ashanti decision in the Labour Court; namely that they failed to apply any proportionality in handing down the section 54 stoppage instructions in question. “
Another aspect to consider is section 52 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resource Development Act (MPRDA’s) practical relevance to large-scale retrenchments in the mining sector.
“It will also be interesting to see whether it is possible to develop a sustainable basis for engagement between the DMR Inspectorate and mining companies at large, given the criticism of the Inspectorate which has recently been expressed by the courts regarding, what can effectively be deemed to be, abuse of power by the DMR. Whether it is possible to rebuild trust between the DMR and mining companies to the advantage of both sides and the industry at large, remains to be seen,” he points out.