South Africa on Thursday unveiled a raft of changes to a controversial mining bill which is to raise black ownership of mining companies from 26 per cent to 30 per cent.
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe revealed details of the mining charter, intended to transform the key industry and address long-standing racial inequality in the sector.
The 30 per cent black-held equity will be distributed between employees, mine communities and entrepreneurs, Mantashe said at a news conference in Pretoria.
An impasse between government and business over key provisions of the legislation had in recent years created uncertainty within the industry, a cornerstone of South Africa’s economy.
Mantashe told reporters that the document will “entrench regulatory certainty for investors, and provide security of tenure for investments”.
The government had been criticised over the slow pace of change in the sector which contributes eight per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
The charter includes a raft of other reforms including mandatory workers’ housing and quotas for black representation on boards.
More than 460,000 people are employed in South Africa’s mining industry.
Mantashe said the charter will also help stimulate the sluggish economy, cut poverty, reduce inequality and create jobs.
“It aims to create regulatory certainty, sustainable growth and a competitive and transformed mining industry,” he said.
But the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, while applauding the new version of the charter as an improvement, said it “still amounts to a tightening of the rules governing investment”.
The Minerals Council, an association representing big mining companies, acknowledged that government “had a difficult task balancing the inputs from the various stakeholders”.
South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, slipped into a recession in the second quarter of this year and last year suffered two ratings downgrades.