Mining communities will now have a chance to contribute to the new Mining Charter.

While the country was still digesting the State of the Nation Address delivered on 16 February, South Africa’s newly-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa facilitated talks between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Chamber of Mines that resulted in a joint agreement to postpone a court application by the latter, with hopes to reach a new understanding. In a separate case, however, the Pretoria High Court ordered the mining industry body and the DMR to involve mining communities in their discussions over the Mining Charter. The timelines of these discussions have not yet been mapped out.

Stakeholders not consulted
In June last year, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane released the revised Mining Charter which was met with widespread adversity as affected parties said they were not consulted – the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union being one of them. During an interview with Moneyweb last year, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said, “the Mining and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) will say he must have a forum, where he must consult with all the stakeholders to agree on the goals that he wants to set for the industry, but that has never happened. Also, in some of the clauses, that the union is still going to face the wrath of this charter by the employer’s issue section 189 (retrenchment notice) is because it’s the issuing of the licensing for further advancement of the current mining reserve, of which if he closed down that avenue it’s clear that the mines will be retrenching the workers. So how does it help us then as a union?”.

Leveling the playing fields
AMCU is a staunch supporter of miners being active participants in the mining economy, but it’s important that the correct processes are followed, and the interests of miners are genuinely and carefully considered when implementing the Mining Charter. The High Court’s order will therefore ensure that mining communities are able to add some weight in the charter, which will help tip the scale towards radical transformation.
“As a principle position, AMCU will only recognise the importance of the charter when it has been streamlined with the MPRDA and is enforceable by law. Currently, the charter regime is an industry best practice and is not regulated as an ACT of parliament. This is why employers can violate this charter without consequence. We need to have important aspects of this charter incorporated into legislation for it to have meaningful contribution in the mining industry,” said President Mathunjwa during an address in Pretoria last year.