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Urgent Mining Charter update

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Communities informed Minister of Mineral Resources and Chamber of Mines seek to postpone Mining Charter challenge

On the eve of the Mining Charter review, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Chamber of Mines have agreed to a postponement. Mining community networks are co-applicants in the challenge but were not engaged on a postponement, and have not been given any undertaking that mining affected communities will be recognised as a core stakeholder in further engagement on the Charter.

Late this afternoon, legal representatives for mining affected community networks MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA were notified that the Chamber of Mines and Minister of Mineral Resources have agreed to a postponement in the Mining Charter review scheduled to begin tomorrow. Shortly afterwards, the Presidency released a statement announcing this agreement.

Community networks MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, are co-applicants in the matter and at no stage were the networks invited to participate in these discussions between the State and the Chamber of Mines. This mirrors the daily experience of mining affected communities across South Africa and is part of the same pattern of exclusion that led communities to approach the Court in the first place.

We have not been afforded the same opportunity as the Chamber of Mines to discuss a postponement, have not received formal reasons for why the postponement is sought, and note that the statement has come through the Presidency, which is not a party to the proceedings. We have also been given no indication as to whether the Minister will bear our wasted costs caused by the postponement sought. This is highly irregular.

“There are eight applicants in this case and only one of them has agreed to a postponement,” says Wandisa Phama, attorney at CALS. “It is up to the Court to decide if the matter will be postponed, and not the Chamber of Mines, the Minister or the Presidency. They are treating our clients as if they are not a party to the case with a direct and substantial interest as the Court has already acknowledged.”

“We have received no formal request for a postponement that undertakes to engage with communities,” says Meshack Mbangula, national co-ordinator of MACUA. “We have only been informed that the Chamber has agreed to postpone the case and only they have been engaged as usual. We have once again been excluded from important discussions that impact us directly and so gravely.We still havne’t received any undertaking that we the communities are a key stakeholder that will be engaged.”

“This agreement to postpone perfectly highlights why we are asking the Court to declare mining affected communities are key stakeholders in mining decision- and policy-making,” says Elton Thobejane, deputy chairperson of MEJCON-SA. “It should be mandatory to meaningfully engage with mining affected communities on these issues, otherwise government and industry can continue to make ‘closed door’ agreements to the exclusion of communities who host mining in their backyards.”

Community networks will be appearing before the special allocation of the three judges at 10:00 tomorrow 19 February 2018 in the Pretoria High Court. A march of an expected 1000 people from across South Africa will go ahead as planned outside the Court from 08:30.

For inquiries, please contact:

From the mining community networks: 

From CALS: