New Charter Opens Free Stakes For South Africa’s Mining Employees, Communities



South African Mining Ore


South Africa unveiled a new regulatory charter for its mining industry on Thursday to attract further investment to a sector encumbered by depressed prices, soaring costs and murky policy.

It is part of an affirmative action to reverse black people’s exclusion from the mainstream economy under apartheid and pointedly targets the mining industry.

The sector accounts for about 8 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product now, but laid the foundations for Africa’s most industrialised economy.

Presented by Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, the third version of the charter requires miners to provide their local communities and employees with a free 10 per cent stake.

This is a policy some companies may be pressed to bear but which unions say is needed to secure social peace.

“Regulatory and policy uncertainty is removed. We have a duty now to mobilise investment into mining,” Mantsahe, a former trade unionist said.

The charter raised the level of black ownership as expected to 30 per cent from 26 per cent.

The stake would be divided with 20 per cent for black business interests and five per cent each for communities and employees.

“The community/employee stake is a 10 per cent investment in peace and stability. Current levels of mining community unrest and high number of industrial action creates a high level of instability,” Gideon du Plessis, the head of the Solidarity trade union which represents skilled workers said.

Mining operations in the world’s top platinum producer which also exports gold, coal, diamonds and iron ore are flashpoints of social and labour unrest amid perceptions that the wealth flowing from the shafts does not benefit local communities.

For example, between the start of 2016 and April 2018, the eastern limb of the platinum belt was hit by over 400 incidents of social unrest impacting mining operations, according to data compiled by Anglo American Platinum.

The Minerals Council of South Africa, which represents most of the country’s mining companies, said it would comment later after it has studied the document.

Among the controversial provisions in previous drafts that were dropped was one that would have required companies to pay one per cent of earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation to employees and communities if no dividends were paid for six years.

At the board level and among top management, the charter requires 50 per cent black representation and 20 per cent female representation.


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