The Minerals Council South Africa says it has considered the unexpected announcement in Parliament on Wednesday by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe that he plans to propose to cabinet the scrapping of the Bill drafted to amend the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).
Out-of-the-blue, Mantashe announced during Parliament’s mineral resources portfolio committee meeting that government will withdraw the controversial MPRDA Bill.
The Department of Mineral Resources’ will now present the Bill to Cabinet for ratification before it is finally withdrawn, allowing the mining industry to be governed by the MPRDA in its present form. The Bill was referred back to Parliament in January 2015 by the president due to lack of public consultation after Parliament had passed it.
The mining industry was concerned about the proposals in the Bill which left important aspects of regulations to be promulgated by the minister – especially the one requiring mining companies intending to export minerals to apply for written consent from the mineral resources minister – and for being a one-stop shop for mining house operations to be regulated in one piece of legislation.
The Minerals Council said that Mantashe’s approach appears to be sensible given the underlying reasons for the current delays in finalising the Bill.
The council said in a statement that intensive and useful engagements took place over a number of years with successive ministers towards achieving consensus on a range of issues covered in the Bill.
“However, there remain a number of constitutional concerns, both substantive and procedural, which remain unresolved. Constitutional challenges, which were threatened by a range of interested parties, would have meant continuing uncertainty for the industry as these wound their way through the courts,” it said.
“In the absence of resolving those concerns, withdrawal of the Bill seems to be a more appropriate option.”
The council said it was hopeful that, should Mantashe choose at some stage to introduce a new amendment Bill, it will take proper account of the areas of consensus reached during the exhaustive discussions previously held.