PRETORIA (Reuters) – South Africa has raised the minimum threshold for black ownership of mining companies to 30 percent from 26 percent but has not decided if firms must retain that structure permanently, Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Thursday.
Mining companies in the world’s top platinum producer have complained about a lack of consultation over revisions to an industry charter which sets targets for black ownership and participation, and say onerous rules would hurt investment.
The rand fell 2 percent after Zwane unveiled details of the revisions while the Johannesburg bourse’s Mining Index extended its decline to more than 3 percent.
Zwane said companies had 12 months to meet the new 30 percent target. The Mining Charter was introduced in 2002 to increase black ownership of the mining industry, which accounts for about 7 percent of South Africa’s economic output.
The Chamber of Mines, an industry body, has taken the government to court over the interpretation of the ownership rules. The government has said companies must keep to black ownership targets even if black shareholders sell their stakes.
Uncertainty about the government policy remained, however, as Zwane said “we have not dealt with that” issue.
The Chamber of Mines, which represents companies such as Anglo American and Sibanye Gold, did not take part in the launch because of what it said was a lack of consultation in drawing up the charter.
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; writing by Ed Stoddard; editing by James Macharia and David Clarke)