Mining Charter `Little Benefit’ to South Africans, Group Says – by Paul Burkhardt (Bloomberg News – June 20, 2017)

South Africa’s new mining charter, which is supposed to help spread the country’s mineral wealth more broadly, will offer little benefit to mining communities and was written without proper consultation, according to a group formed by Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu.

The charter, published June 15 by Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, increases the requirement for black ownership in local mining assets to 30 percent. Producers that don’t already comply with the prior minimum of 26 percent must sell at least 8 percent of their total shares to nearby communities as part of efforts to achieve the 30 percent.

Zwane’s Department of Mineral Resources “is guilty of misleading the public in claiming it has consulted communities” before gazetting the charter, and the document’s flaws and lack of clarity are likely to result in protests, said John Capel, executive director of the Johannesburg-based Bench Marks Foundation, which monitors corporate social responsibility.

“It boggles the mind that the DMR believes that speaking to a small number of chiefs in one mining area is representative of the views of mining-affected communities in South Africa,” Capel said in an emailed statement late Monday.

Bench Marks’s stance puts the watchdog group in rare agreement with local mining companies, which it has criticized in the past for failing to meet social responsibilities. The Chamber of Mines, which represents producers, has vowed to fight the new charter in court and has complained it wasn’t properly consulted.

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