Solidarity welcomes release of new Mining Charter

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Published verbatim as per media statement from Solidarity.

Solidarity welcomes the new Mining Charter which has finally been released today by Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources, after three years of uncertainty on what the contents would be.

According to Solidarity General Secretary, Gideon du Plessis, the contents of the Mining Charter will not be to everyone’s satisfaction, and Solidarity itself is not comfortable with certain clauses, but the final version is a huge improvement on the original Zwane version. Since March this year, following Gwede Mantashe’s appointment as Minister of Mineral Resources, all mining social partners have had ample opportunity to give input into the charter, and the principle of give and take applied during negotiations.

“Solidarity is particularly pleased that white females have again been included in the definition of ‘previously disadvantaged South Africans’ and that the employee share ownership plan is non-racial in nature. The promotion of non-racialism is one of the goals of the Charter and it is this very aspect which makes Sasol’s Khanyisa scheme, which is based on race, stick out like a sore thumb, and which comes at a time in which non-racialism should be promoted,” Du Plessis emphasised. Solidarity is also thankful that some of the clauses which would have put additional pressure on companies regarding costs have been mitigated because the costs would have been ultimately recovered from workers and consequently would have led to lower wage increases, or retrenchments.

“Solidarity is disappointed that the clause providing for employee representation on company boards was removed at the eleventh hour, but then again the negotiations were a give and take process. Trade unions will see to it that the workers’ voice is heard in practice,” Du Plessis stated.

“The final charter necessitated a balancing act to accommodate various interests and the main thing now is that all players embrace and develop those aspects in the Charter towards which there is a positive feeling, and to manage those about which there is a negative feeling, trying to make it work in the interest of the mining community and South Africa as a whole.  It is also important to take note of the transition clauses that provide ample time for compliance with most of the charter’s requirements and certain key requirements will only be applicable when an application for a new mining licence is submitted. It has to be understood that achieving stability in and around mines is one of the charter’s underlying goals and this comes at a price. Therefore, the proposed community projects are important, because an investor-friendly charter means nothing if estranged and unhappy mining communities threaten to stop production.  Hopefully, healthy labour relations – because employees now become real shareholders – and a decline in community protest action will be the positive results for the sector,” Du Plessis said.

“Finally, Solidarity wants to applaud the Department of Mineral Resources, and in particular Minister Gwede Mantashe and the negotiation facilitator, Mosa Mabuza, for the way in which they have managed a difficult process,” Du Plessis concluded.