20 April 2011
South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has announced the lifting of the country’s moratorium on new mining rights applications.
The minister imposed the moratorium at the beginning of September last year in order to allow the department to conduct a full audit of all mining and prospecting licences granted since 2004.
The moratorium for the Mpumalanga region has been extended to 30 September 2011.
Addressing journalists in Pretoria on Tuesday, Shabangu explained that the moratorium was to help in streamlining administrative processes.
“The moratorium and audits were not targeted at any particular catergory of the mining industry,” she said. “As a ministry, we did not go out on a limb in a bid to target black economic empowerment entities, we aimed our arrows at all the rights holders.”
During the period of the moratorium, the department conducted inspections of all mining sites. A total of 3 266 inspections were conducted, and a total of 713 statutory notices were issued to non-compliant rights holders.
“These rights holders are being given an opportunity to rectify cases of non-compliance,” Shabangu said.
With the lifting of the moratorium, new applications can now be lodged online. This, according to Shabangu, will reduce incidences of fraud and corruption.
Over 400 new applications were lodged on Tuesday after the moratorium was lifted.
Shabangu said that the online application system would reject incomplete or non-compliant applications and that there would be fewer people involved in processing the applications.
According to the department, the new system would ensure accountability, efficiency and transparency, and address overlaps on properties applied for.
With regard to new mining applications, Shabangu said the first come, first served principle would apply to the allocation of new rights.
“The bidding system that is provided for in the [Mining Rights] Act will be put in place, which will be applicable to all rights that are granted, issued, expired, revoked and abandoned,” Shabangu said.