JOHANNESBURG, October 4 (ANA) – Tensions between the South African mining industry and government continued to play out on Wednesday as the Chamber of Mines said that its decision to boycott the gala dinner of the Joburg Indaba mining conference was “carefully considered”.
This comes after the Chamber’s executives and office bearers decided not to attend Tuesday night’s Joburg Indaba banquet at which Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was the guest speaker.
“It was not an impetuous decision. It was not a decision based on personal animosity towards the minister. It was a carefully considered decision based on the current regulatory and judicial situation,” the Chamber’s chief executive, Roger Baxter, said in a statement.
“It was also something we resolved to do without fanfare or comment. We regret that the conference organiser chose to publicise our decision, which was conveyed to him purely as a matter of courtesy to assist his organisational considerations.”
The mining industry is currently challenging the unilateral implementation of the 2017 Reviewed Mining Charter at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
The industry is seeking for the Charter to be reviewed or set aside, arguing that its implementation would be harmful to the industry and the economy because of its content as well as the vague and contradictory language employed to convey that content.
The Charter sets new black ownership targets for the industry, including that new mining rights holders have 30 percent black ownership shared among employees, communities and black entrepreneurs. The review will be heard between December 13 and 14.
Explaining its decision to boycott the banquet, the Chamber said not only had Zwane unilaterally published a Charter, he also recklessly sought to introduce a moratorium on approving new rights or amending rights on the basis of his refusal to engage on the issues.
“This pattern of behavior makes it impossible for the industry to engage with any confidence with him on the industry’s future. We know that a new charter has to be developed. We stand ready to do so with government leaders of integrity and with all other stakeholders. We have been seeking to do this for the past two years without success,” Baxter said.
“For us to have attended last night’s event would have forced us to engage with the minister on specific regulatory issues in circumstances that are simply not conducive to any constructive engagement at this stage, other than through the courts. The last time the Chamber shared a platform with the Minister – in Perth, Australia – the outcome was not at all constructive.”
– African News Agency (ANA)
(Image:Chamber CE, Roger Baxter