South African mining firms seek charter changes over past black ownership deals (Reuters U.K. – March 27, 2019)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Mining companies have requested a judicial review of South Africa’s 2018 mining charter to change clauses related to transactions made in the past to increase black ownership, an industry body said on Wednesday.

In a bid to rectify the wealth disparities of apartheid more than two decades after the end of white minority rule, South Africa has demanded that a proportion of a mining company’s shares are owned by black investors.

Originally set at 26 percent, the black ownership level was raised to 30 percent in 2017, although companies that had already achieved 26 percent were not required to meet the higher target.

Mining companies have argued that, while they accept the need to raise black ownership to the required level, they should not be required to maintain that level should black investors sell any of their shares later.

The Minerals Council, which represents mining companies, said most aspects of the new charter unveiled in 2018 were “reasonable and workable” but said it should be changed to ensure it recognized past deals related to black empowerment.

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