February 28, 2018 / 1:57 PM / 22 days ago

South Africa's mining charter to be finalized in three months: mines minister

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s new mining minister Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday he will finalize the latest version of an industry charter which lays out requirements for black ownership levels and other targets in the next three months.

FILE PHOTO: Gwede Mantashe gestures during a media briefing at Luthuli house, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Uncertainty around the charter has deterred investment into a sector that accounts for 8 percent of gross domestic product in the world’s top platinum producer.

The government of new President Cyril Ramaphosa has said it will negotiate the latest charter with mining companies, prompting the Chamber of Mines to temporarily suspend a legal challenge to the version drawn up by Mantashe’s predecessor Mosebenzi Zwane.

“We will finish it within three months, I am putting that timeframe for myself,” Mantashe told the eNCA news channel when asked about finalizing the charter.

The industry had broken off talks with Zwane and said his new charter would drive many companies out of business. Bones of contention included raising the target for black ownership to 30 percent from 26 percent.

Mantashe is a former General Secretary of the powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and is chairman of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). He is known for his gruff, blunt style and tough negotiating skills.

The Chamber of Mines industry body this week described Mantashe as “a man of integrity and dignity, and who brings with him a sound and fundamental knowledge of the industry he will lead and enable.”

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia

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