SA gold miners wrestle with housing targets – by David McKay ( – April 17, 2015)

[] – THE release of a preliminary report into how South African mining firms measured up against the targets outlined in the 2004 mining charter, which was updated in 2010, was predictably focused on ownership.

This is the issue regarding the mining charter’s demand that a minimum 26% of South Africa’s mining companies be owned by historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs). The mining sector believes that target has been met whilst the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) insists it has not.

The difference of opinion turns on the DMR’s refusal to acknowledge transactions that are now no longer in existence of which the best example is Mvelaphanda Resources, a Johannesburg-listed mining company that was closed in about 2010.

Ngoako Ramalathlodi, mines minister, has agreed to take the matter to the High Court jointly with the Chamber of Mines. As a lawyer, he knows that fighting the matter separately could take a considerable amount of time and lead to more uncertainty for the sector.

A lesser known aspect of the mining charter, however, is the DMR’s unhappiness with the sector’s efforts to improve housing and living conditions, as well as sustainable development. As with the ownership targets, the DMR believes the sector has failed the charter.

Roughly 63% of rightholders – companies that were granted a new order mining right by the DMR and have the licence to mine – successfully converted hostels to either family units or single accommodation units. However, more could be done, said the DMR.

“The drive to improve the living standards of mineworkers has not been fully realised,” said Ramatlhodi. “More needs to be done to address the broader objective of ensuring that mineworkers live in decent accommodation,” he said.

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