Ramaphosa the negotiator strikes - persuades mining firms to postpone court battle

19 February 2018 - 07:16 By Timeslive
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President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Masi Losi

The Chamber of Mines has agreed jointly with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to postpone its court application over the Reviewed Mining Charter‚ which was due to be heard in the High Court from today February 19 until February 21. This comes after the State of the Nation Address on Friday‚ and subsequent engagement with the Presidency.

"The Presidency has indicated that the President (Cyril Ramaphosa) is committed to resolving the impasse over the Mining Charter and to facilitate a process of developing a New Mining Charter‚ inclusive of all stakeholders and in the interests of the industry and the country as a whole‚" the chamber said in a statement.

"In line with the spirit and the tone of the message as stated by the President during SONA on 16 February‚ the Chamber of Mines is agreeable to the request by the Presidency to give negotiations a chance."

Chamber of Mines president Mxolisi Mgojo said: “We welcome the President’s intervention‚ and his commitment to engaging meaningfully with stakeholders in the industry – and others – on a New Mining Charter. Ultimately‚ a New Mining Charter must be developed and resolved through negotiation‚ with representation by a broad range of stakeholders – government‚ business‚ labour and communities. For the Chamber of Mines‚ and the industry‚ legal recourse was always a last resort‚ intended to get the parties to the table‚ and the sooner we do that the better for the industry and our country.”

The chamber added that the amici curiae (friends of the court)‚ namely the National Union of Mineworkers and Solidarity‚ and the other applicants‚ represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and the Lawyers for Human Rights‚ have been advised of this development.

The presidency said the intervention and subsequent agreement on the postponement "serves to allow parties the space to engage and find an amicable solution".

This is in line with Ramaphosa’s commitment during the State of the Nation Address to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter "to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa".

“By working together‚ in a genuine partnership‚ underscored by trust and a shared vision‚ I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a Charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy‚” said Ramaphosa.

Lawyers for Human Rights said notwithstanding the Chamber of Mines and government's comments on the postponement of the 2017 Mining Charter case by agreement‚ its clients were not consulted.

"There are seven other applicants in the case‚ none of whom have been formally engaged by the respondent in this matter‚ the Department of Mineral Resources. They have accordingly entered into no such agreement."

LHR represents the Sefikile‚ Lesethleng‚ Babina Phuthi Ba Ga-Makola and Kgatlu communities‚ which all host mining operations on their land. They want the court to rule that a new Mining Charter be drafted‚ and that they - and others like them - be properly consulted in the development of that document to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

“It is unfortunate that this agreement between the Chamber and the government appears to extend the pattern of exclusion that prompted our clients to intervene in this matter in the first place‚” said Michael Clements‚ head of the LHR's environmental rights programme. “The court allowed this intervention on the basis that our clients and the other community co-applicants have a direct interest in this matter‚ and so it is up to the court to determine if the case can be postponed."

The case was set down at the Pretoria High Court‚ from 10am today.

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