Johannesburg – A court review on South Africa’s controversial Mining Charter was postponed by the court on Monday until further notice.
A full bench of judges ordered that the Mining Charter be postponed sine die or “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing”, after the Presidency and Chamber of Mines said they would start fresh talks on the fate of the controversial charter.
The application was set to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court, starting on Monday. But on Sunday evening both the mining advocacy body and the Presidency put out statements saying that negotiations would again commence.
Costs have been reserved.
But seven other applicants – including the Mining Affected Communities United in Action‚ Women Affected by Mining United in Action‚ and the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa – were not part of the discussions.
The legal representatives for mining affected community networks said they were only notified of the agreement to postpone the court hearing late on Sunday afternoon, and felt they had been excluded from the consultation process yet again.
But the groups were encouraged that the court order recognised the communities as stakeholders who should be consulted on future Mining Charter talks.
The chamber said it noted the court’s order after it agreed to postpone its application “on the basis of the Presidency’s commitment to resolving the impasse over the Mining Charter and to facilitate a process of developing a new Mining Charter by way of negotiations, inclusive of all stakeholders including government, business, labour and communities in the interests of the industry and the country as a whole”.
“Over the recent months, the chamber has repeatedly expressed its commitment to community participation,” the chamber stated, adding that it will be necessary for that constituency to establish a representative body to participate.
“Importantly, that body would need to be able to deliver on commitments as the government, organised labour and industry representatives do.”
The chamber said legal recourse is always a last resort, intended to get the parties to the table.
“Ultimately, the new Mining Charter must be developed and resolved through inclusive negotiations,” it said, welcoming the opportunity Ramaphosa’s commitment provides.
In a statement issued by the office of the Presidency, Ramaphosa said postponement would allow the chamber and the Department of Mineral Resources “space to engage and find an amicable solution”.
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