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SA mines minister drops challenge to court ruling on black ownership threshold

By Tanisha Heiberg

South Africa’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has withdrawn an appeal of a court ruling that held that mining companies did not have to maintain at least 26% black ownership in perpetuity, the Minerals Council industry body said on Wednesday.

South Africa's Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
South Africa’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

South Africa’s mining sector, which is the world’s biggest producer of chrome ore and accounts for around 70% of global mined platinum supply, has been battered by opaque policies, rising costs and lacklustre foreign investment.

The Minerals Council said they were pleased by the decision which now means the order would be undisputed.

“This step by the minister is welcomed as it advances the goal of achieving much-needed regulatory certainty in the sector,” the industry body said.

The mines ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

The high court ruled in 2018 in favour the Minerals Council challenge to a government regulation which specified that a black ownership target of 26%, under the first two charters in place since 2004, must be maintained throughout the life of the mine.

The ruling, in the form of a declaratory order, means mining companies in the world’s top platinum producer need only to make the 26% threshold once, and do not need to top up again if black shareholders decide to sell their stake.

But the mines minister Gwede Mantashe appealed the ruling arguing that judgment would hurt economic transformation which is aimed at changing the ownership structure of the economy that was controlled by the white minority under apartheid.

Twenty-six years after the end of white minority rule, white people still control much of the economy despite accounting for around 8% of the population.

The Minerals Council said the latest decision would not impact a judicial review of the 2018 mining charter, which raised the black ownership level to 30%, that was currently in court. REUTERS