Ramaphosa Wants to Return to Drawing Board on South Africa Mine Rules

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  • Parties must seek a consensus, deputy president says
  • ANC party officials met Tuesday with Chamber of Mines

Deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa.

Photographer: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

South Africa should negotiate with mining companies over controversial new regulations that are supposed to help spread the country’s mineral wealth more broadly but have drawn clamors of outrage from the industry, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

“Both parties must go back to the drawing board and they must sit down and talk about their shared interest, their shared future and how best they can reach a measure of consensus” about the new Mining Charter, Ramaphosa said Tuesday at an event in Johannesburg. “In the end, the mining industry needs investors but at the same time it needs to transform.”

The charter was released June 15 by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and immediately criticized by the industry, which says it wasn’t consulted and that the changes, including a higher minimum level for black ownership, will hurt investment. Public disagreement about the new rules further highlights rifts in the country’s ruling African National Congress, of which Ramaphosa is also deputy president, before a December leadership conference to elect a successor to President Jacob Zuma.

The ANC last week expressed concern about the charter’s effects on employment and said it would seek an urgent meeting with Zwane. The Chamber of Mines, which represents mining companies and has promised to fight the new charter in court, met Tuesday with ANC officials.

South Africa is the world’s biggest platinum producer. Companies including Anglo American Plc and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. have operations in the country.

The government should reach an agreement with mining companies on the way forward for the charter, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said in a Bloomberg Television interview. An accord is preferable to a court battle, which could become drawn out and damage economic growth, he said.

Read: Miners Vow to Fight South Africa’s New Black-Ownership Rules

Ayanda Shezi, a spokeswoman for Zwane’s department, said she needed more details about Ramaphosa’s statements before she could comment. The top six members of the ANC, which include Ramaphosa, agreed with the charter, Zwane said in an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corp. posted on Twitter.

Ramaphosa, who is seen as one of the top contenders for the leadership of the party, co-founded South Africa’s influential National Union of Mineworkers before helping to negotiate a peaceful end to apartheid. He was one of the high-profile beneficiaries of early black economic empowerment deals but disposed of some of his business interests after being chosen as deputy leader of the ANC.

— With assistance by Nejra Cehic

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