South Africa Mining Charter Meets More Opposition as Communities Challenges Ownership Rules and Taxes

Community based organizations and activists have joined the existing case brought by mining companies against the South African government’s Mining Charter, with the intention to seek a court order that will ensure they participate in drafting any replacement.

The mining industry, represented by the Chamber of Mines and the Department of Mineral Resources had been in a standoff over the Mining Charter which was published in June, as it puts extra levies on companies and increases black-empowerment requirements that may dilute shareholders.

One hundred and fifty South African organizations and activists group demands a declaratory order that recognizes mining-affected communities as a key stakeholder which that should be meaningfully engaged when developing any new mining charter.

Mining companies are concerned that the charter seeks to establish a government-controlled fund that will manage communities’ stakes in mines as it will receive payments that the industry estimates could amount to 3.5 billion rand a year.

Represented by Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), the group of South African mining communities noted that the new charter was developed without engaging them. Adding that “We are asking the court to allow us to intervene in the case and to set aside the current charter for this failure to meaningfully engage affected communities”.

CALS said that “Mining-affected communities continue to bear the greatest burdens of mining — losing farmland to mining operations, facing environmental harm and degradation and suffering from illnesses caused by pollution.”

A judgment in the judicial review of the charter  is scheduled to begin in December.