South African Miners Win Court Fight on Black Ownership Rule – by Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – April 5, 2018)

South African mining companies won court backing on a crucial black-ownership principle that’s likely to have implications for ongoing negotiations with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government.

Producers don’t need to top up black-shareholding levels in perpetuity if they previously met the minimum 26 percent requirement, the High Court in Pretoria said on Wednesday.

The judgment boosts certainty for investors in the world’s top platinum producer and gives mining companies extra muscle in talks with Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on changes to the Mining Charter, a set of rules aimed at distributing the wealth of the industry more widely.

“This is a very significant judgment for the mining industry, it clearly gives the chamber a great advantage in the negotiations for a new charter,” said Peter Leon, the Africa co-chair at law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. “The certainty is extremely important for confidence building in the sector.”

Wednesday’s decision follows a tumultuous year for South African mining, after then-Minister Mosebenzi Zwane in June published a new charter that was furiously opposed by the industry, with one top chief executive officer saying it made South Africa “uninvestable.”

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