* Charter compliance hot political issue
* Chamber of Mines says its members already met targets
* Nationalisation talk has unnerved investors
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 26 South Africa's mines
minister Susan Shabangu will soon give her assessment of
industry progress in reaching the targets of a charter aimed at
giving previously excluded blacks a higher share of ownership,
her spokesperson said on Friday.
"We expect the minister to pronounce on this issue within a
matter of weeks once she has looked at all these latest
reports," Bheki Khumalo told Reuters, referring to reports that
mining companies had to submit to the government by the end of
The company reports include their scorecards of progress
they are making towards the charter's goals which include
ensuring the industry in the world's largest platinum producer
is at least 26 percent black-owned by 2014.
South Africa's Chamber of Mines said on Wednesday black
ownership among its members averaged 28 percent, already
exceeding the targets -- politically charged findings at odds
with anything the government has said to date.
The government has long held that companies are lagging in
moves to give blacks a bigger share of the mining industry, and
the sector's charter is part of a wider "empowerment" drive
across Africa's largest economy aimed at rectifying the
disparities of white apartheid rule.
Meeting its goals is seen as one way to blunt a push by
radical elements in the ruling African National Congress to
nationalise the industry, a prospect that has unnerved investors
but also focused attention on pressing issues such as poverty,
unemployment, and racial imbalances in ownership.
Shabangu told Reuters last weekend she was confident the
targets would be exceeded by 2014 but no one from government has
suggested it is close yet.
In fact, government officials said on Wednesday they would
toughen the rules to ensure compliance.
Only 8.9 percent of mines were owned by blacks in 2009, well
below a target of 15 percent.
Members of South Africa's chamber of mines include Anglo
American Platinum , the world's top platinum producer,
Anglo Gold Ashanti and Kumba Iron Ore .
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)