March 20, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 5 months ago

South Africa mines minister to ready black ownership rules by May

PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa aims to finalize revised plans for black ownership in the mining industry by the end of May, Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday, promising to deliver “policy certainty” to an industry worried about new costs.

FILE PHOTO: African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe gestures during a media briefing at Luthuli house, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Mantashe acknowledged a “lack of consultation between the ministry and the partners in the past”, a message that was well received by companies in the sector where uncertainty about the Mining Charter has deterred investment for months.

A draft of the charter - part of a drive to address lingering racial disparities two decades after apartheid - would raise the target for black ownership to 30 percent from 26 percent and make companies pay 1 percent of turnover to an agency to help black communities.

FILE PHOTO: A shepherd drives a herd of cattle towards the Mogalakwena platinum mine in Mokopane, Limpopo province, South Africa, September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Mantashe, chairman of the ruling African National Congress and a former head of the National Union of Mineworkers, met companies and unions a the weekend and said he aimed to re-establish trust.

“Uppermost in our minds is that we should ensure that there is policy certainty,” he told reporters in a briefing about the “robust and open” meeting.

The Chamber of Mines, which represents the companies, has suspended a court challenge to revisions to the charter drawn up by Mantashe’s predecessor, Mosebenzi Zwane, which it says were imposed without consultation.

The chamber says many of those rules are unaffordable for an industry that accounts for about 8 percent of gross domestic product but is grappling with depressed prices and rising costs.

Welcoming Mantashe’s approach, it said in a statement: “We are aligned with the Minister’s thinking that transformation, competitiveness and growth are and should be mutually reinforcing goals.”

Additional reporting by Patricia Aruo; Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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