Mining Indaba: Minister out to deal with manipulators of mining rights

South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane on Monday vowed to deal with the owners of prospecting and mining rights who manipulated the system for profit.

Zwane was cornered into confronting the issue of people and companies who manipulated mining rights during the department’s panel discussion at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Monday afternoon.

The panel was made up of government, business and labour stakeholders in the form of: Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen, Chamber of Mines President Mike Teke, and trade union Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis.

Zwane said that his department would from now be very cautious of how it dealt with issuing and renewing mining rights by enforcing the “use it or lose it” principle.

“There are individuals that acquire mining rights with the intention of selling them. We don’t want people who sit with mining rights, keep renewing them, only to sell them at inflated prices. But the department is lenient on those who show intention of using them,” Zwane said.

The Department of Mineral Resources issues prospecting rights, a five-year guaranteed permit to survey or investigate an area of land for the purpose of identifying an actual or probable mineral deposit, as well as mining rights for extraction of minerals that may not exceed a period of 30 years.

In recent years, shady business entities have been exposed for having acquired mining rights through questionable means and leasing them to big mining companies for exorbitant fees, while leaving local communities starving.

Teke, the president of the Chamber of Mines, said enforcing the “use it or lose it” principle would result in a number of mining rights’ owners having to decide whether to halt loss-making operations and lose their licences, or continue producing at a loss so as to keep their licences.

Teke said there were a number of “assets” in the market that prospective investors could purchase, but the prices were ridiculous.

“There are a number of mining assets out in the market that are up for grabs. Though I won’t mention them by name, they are out there for anyone to compete,” Teke said.

Touching on related issues, Zwane said the department would soon embark on a drive to ensure that mining companies rehabilitated the environment in which they were operating to an acceptable condition.

Zwane said eradicating mine dumps would also help create more jobs.

In dealing with poverty around the mines, Zwane appeared to have been caught off guard as he could say only that food parcels and social grants were there to alleviate such dire situations.

But he did acknowledge that there was a problem, saying “it’s a serious challenge that needs everyone to work together”.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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