S.Africa mines minister asks courts to decide on black ownership rule

by Reuters 0

South African mines minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Tuesday there was “no consensus” with industry over a mandated target of 26 per cent black ownership by 2014.

This forces the government to resort to the courts over the matter.

Ramatlhodi made the comments as he disclosed an “interim report” on the government’s assessment of how the mining industry has complied with the targets set out for it in a charter aimed at redressing the imbalances of white apartheid rule which ended two decades ago.

The main sticking point is the industry contention that once a company is 26 per cent black-owned, it has effectively complied, even if some of the black shareholders then sell out. The government says companies must retain the 26 per cent ratio.

Failure to meet the targets can result in mining permits or rights being revoked.

(READ MORE: S.Africa to disclose results of mining charter review on Tuesday)

“That’s the principle one that is under contestation,” Ramatlhodi said in response to questions.

But he said his ministry and the industry in the world’s top platinum producer had agreed on most other targets laid out in the charter. The government has been auditing mining houses with an eye to charter compliance.

The minister also said about 20 per cent of South Africa’s mining companies had not provided details about their compliance with the charter but they were mostly smaller players.

Social and labour plans, training programmes and the demographic composition of boards and management teams are all part of the charter.