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DMR backs down from moratorium notice

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has backed down on its plans to implement a moratorium notice, which was published in the government gazette on 19 July 2017.

The DMR on Thursday took to Twitter to announce that Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was not implementing the recently gazetted proposal to freeze the granting of new mining and permitting rights, as well as the transfer of mineral rights between companies.

The Chamber, however, expressed its dissatisfaction in court regarding the DMR’s tweet, “We had sought a written undertaking from the minister that he would not take the action contemplated in the Government Gazette [of July 19] and that was never given.

“What then happened was that last night we discovered that the minister had tweeted that he is not going to take the steps contemplated in that notice [the government gazette]. That was then followed by a media statement issued this morning to the same effect,” said the Chamber. 

In a separate statement issued on Friday, the Chamber of Mines announced the formal agreement between the Chamber and the DMR, not to pursue the contemplated notice.

Presiding Judge Ramarumo Monama remarked in court that the Minister’s approach, both in issuing the intended moratorium notice and in his failure to respond to the interdict, showed “the utmost disrespect” for the Constitution, the rule of law and the courts. He further remarked that the Minister’s conduct serves to tarnish brand South Africa, and called for the Minister to submit an affidavit within 14 days explaining his failure to file an answering affidavit.

The Chamber noted, “While the court order is satisfactory it does not take away the fact that significant damage has been done to the confidence of the industry as a result of the Minister’s reckless actions.”

*The gazetting of the moratorium followed after a court interdict was lodged by the Chamber of Mines to halt the implementation of the revised Mining Charter, which the industry lobby group said had lacked proper consultation prior to it being gazetted on 15 June 2017 by Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

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