South African mining bill amended, but doubts remain – by Wendell Roelf (Reuters U.S. – November 1, 2016)

CAPE TOWN, Nov 1 South Africa’s parliament passed amendments to a long-delayed mineral resources law on Tuesday, though doubts remain over whether it will provide the regulatory certainty needed to boost a declining mining sector.

Battered by a global commodities downturn that hit key platinum, iron ore and coal exports, Africa’s most industrialised country hopes the bill will boost a flagging mining sector forced into shaft closures and massive job losses.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) bill was first passed in 2014, but President Jacob Zuma referred the bill back to parliament over concerns that it might infringe global trade obligations and was unconstitutional, partly because it elevated the country’s Mining Charter to the status of legislation.

The Mining Charter contains regulations meant to redress imbalances of the nation’s past apartheid rule and stipulates rules for white-owned companies to sell stakes to black businesses.

The bill also gives wide-ranging powers to the mines minister to place certain minerals in a “value-addition” category requiring a portion of extracted resources to be processed domestically and not be exported in raw form.

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