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Mining charter challenged

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Legal challenge to the transformative aspirations of the Mining Charter continues

The Mining Charter was first introduced in 2004 as a means of addressing the historical inequalities in the mining sector based on, for example, race and gender. The Charter aims to advance meaningful transformation and sustainable development in the industry by introducing a number of requirements for mining right holders. Many of these are already improving the lives of mine workers and their families, such as the requirement to convert overcrowded, dehumanising hostels into family units.

While the Mining Charter has so far been treated as a binding legal document, Malan Scholes Attorneys seeks to challenge this. In June 2015, the firm launched proceedings against the Department of Mineral Resources in the North Gauteng High Court, arguing that the Charter provides only guidelines that should not be interpreted as mandatory requirements.

On 15 March 2016, Judge Rabie of the North Gauteng High Court ordered that the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) be admitted as amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court’ in the matter. CALS recognises the importance of this case and seeks to assist the court by presenting evidence concerning the historical and persistant racism of the extractive industry in the country. Our legal submissions highlight the importance of the Charter in transforming the extractives industry.

“Having a binding Charter is critical for comprehensive transformation and addressing exploitation in the mining sector,” said Nomonde Nyembe, attorney at CALS. “If the applicants got their relief in this matter, it’s possible that transformation in the industry would be set back significantly.”

The matter is set to be heard on 7 and 8 February 2017. You can read the CALS court papers here.

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