JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa intends to suspend the granting of applications for prospecting and mining rights as well as any renewals pending a court case to review new mining laws, the Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Thursday.
Such a move could seriously hamper growth and investment in South Africa’s mining sector, already beset by policy uncertainty, depressed prices, soaring costs and often violent social and labor strife.
“The moratorium would ensure that any applications … are concluded in terms of the 2017 Mining Charter,” Zwane said in a statement. The Charter is part of a wider empowerment drive in South Africa designed to rectify the disparities of apartheid that persist more than two decades since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
The Chamber of Mines said it believed the move to suspend new mining and exploration rights was “unlawful”, damaging to the sector and was beyond the minister’s powers under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
“The effect of the notice is to pave the way for the Minister to issue a further notice to prevent the issuing of new mining and exploration rights which will have an immediate negative impact on investment in the sector,” Chamber said.
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