April 24, 2018 / 9:07 AM / 3 months ago

South Africa's mines minister to challenge court ruling on empowerment law

JOHANNESBURG, April 24 (Reuters) - South Africa’s mines minister will appeal a court ruling in favour of the “once empowered, always empowered” principle over concerns the judgement would slow racial transformation of the industry, the Department of Mineral Resources said on Tuesday.

Earlier in April the Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of the Chamber of Mines’ challenge of government’s draft mining charter, which specifies that a black ownership target of 26 percent must be maintained throughout the life of the mine.

The ruling, in the form of a declaratory order, allows mining firms’ ownership transactions to be recognised even where the black partner has sold or transferred part or all of its equity.

In a statement, the mines department said the judgement would hurt the policy of “economic transformation” - changing the ownership structure of the economy that was controlled by the white minority under apartheid.

It is a sore topic in South Africa where wealth inequality remains high and ownership still largely concentrated in white hands more than two decades since the end of white minority rule.

The department said it had already approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

“The judgment has dire implications for the economic transformation imperatives of the Constitution, the mining sector and South Africa at large. It further has the potential of extending regulatory and policy uncertainty,” the department said.

New mining minister Gwede Mantashe has set a three month deadline to finalise the latest version of the contested charter.. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana Editing by Peter Graff)

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