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CALS and community networks weigh in on draft Mining Charter

- Lee-Anne Bruce

CALS and three of SA’s largest mining community networks MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA comment on the 2018 draft Mining Charter

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies and three of South Africa’s largest mining community networks MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA have submitted comments on the 2018 draft Mining Charter. While the draft has some positive, transformative elements, both the public participation process and consequently the draft Charter itself remain flawed.

On Friday 15 June 2018, a new draft Mining Charter was released by the Department of Mineral Resources, giving interested and affected parties until today to comment on this version before the Charter is finalised. The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Mining-Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA), and the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South African (MEJCON-SA) have submitted comments accessible here.

The Mining Charter is an important tool for addressing inclusion and transformation in the mining sector. But, it is a tool that has largely been developed without consulting the very people it is meant to benefit: mining affected communities. Communities and networks went to court to challenge the previous version of the Charter on this basis. In February 2018, they were rewarded with a court order recognising them as core stakeholders in mining and ordering that all affected communities be consulted in the formulation of any new Charter going forward.

Despite this court order, the consultation process undertaken by the Department of Mineral Resources since February has not lived up to expectations. Community leaders have noted a number of problems – such as little notice given before meetings, venues for consultations being unclear and too small, and not having enough time to raise concerns about the contents of the Charter. As a result of this flawed process, we still have a number of substantive concerns about the Charter, which does not necessarily reflect the needs of the people it is intended to benefit.

Some of these concerns include:

  1. The draft Charter does not prioritise gender transformation or equality.
  2. Environmental sustainability is not addressed in the draft Charter.
  3. The draft Charter does not address communities’ right to free prior and informed consent to mining.
  4. Even the definition of ‘community’ in the draft Charter is unclear.
  5. The draft Charter does not acknowledge the costs of mining born by communities.
  6. There is no reference in the draft Charter to the People’s Mining Charter which contains the demands and aspirations of mining-affected communities across the country.
  7. There are no safeguards against abuse of communal resources by traditional leaders and politicians.
  8. The draft Charter does not require any goods or services to be procured from the mining-affected communities.
  9. There are no principles outlining how community participation should take place when mines draft their social and labour plans.
  10. There is no framework for regulating the scale of social and labour plans in relation to the size and impact of mines.

We also welcome some positive aspects of the draft Charter, which include:

  1. There is a guaranteed 5% share in all mines for communities and workers.
  2. The provision that skills development programmes should be offered to mining-affected communities as well as employees has been retained.
  3. The draft Charter maintains the increase in the targets for Black Persons in the management of mines.
  4. Social and labour plans are to be published in English and other languages commonly used within mining affected communities.

“Had there been true meaningful engagement on the Charter, the drafters may have been in a better position to capture the issues which matter to those it is designed to benefit – namely mining affected communities,” says Lisa Chamberlain, Acting Director at CALS. “As it stands, we have a draft Charter that does not address many of the key priorities of its beneficiaries.”

For inquiries, please contact:

From the mining community networks:

From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies:


Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) is a co-ordinating body representing and advancing the rights and interests of mine-affected communities across eight provinces of South Africa. The network is made up of 50 community organisations and calls for communities to be granted a greater say in issues that affect their human rights and which they believe is denied to them in current regulations governing the mining sector.


Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) is an official national platform formed within MACUA with the purpose of advancing the rights and interests of women in mining affected communities. WAMUA aims to advance and support women in mining affected communities to strengthen their participation in community decision making processes and influencing local, provincial and national policy and legislative process in the mining sector.


The Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa (MEJCON-SA) is a network of communities, community based organisations and community members whose environmental and human rights are affected, directly or indirectly, by mining and mining-related activities. Since its constitution on 17 October 2012, MEJCON-SA’s membership has continued to grow and includes representatives of various individuals, community-based and civil-society organisations throughout South Africa.


The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) is a public interest law organisation based at the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand. Founded in 1978 by Professor John Dugard, CALS continues to use a combination of research, advocacy and litigation to advance human rights and social justice. Read more about our work at