Fasken hosted a panel discussion as part of the Fasken PDAC (Prospecting and Development Association Conference) seminar series at its offices in Toronto, Canada on Tuesday 3 March 2020
The members of the panel included the South African Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, Willem Jacobs – Chief Operating Officer of Barrick Corporation and Fasken Partner – Stimela Mokoena. The session was moderated by Fasken Partner – Godfrey Malesa. The Minister in his responses on the panel raised the following points:
- On Initiatives undertaken by the Government to encourage exploration and the junior mining sector, the Minister pointed out that junior mining exploration expenditure by the South African government was doubled last year and they are committed to increasing exploration activity. South Africa is in an advantageous position as a large majority of the country's vast mineral resources have already been geologically mapped;
- Given South Africa's history, empowerment is crucial and should be encouraged. Empowerment is included in South African policies and is not a social programme, it is a programme to create Black business people who can participate in the economy in a meaningful way;
- Mining in South Africa has diversified in that it is no longer solely focussed on gold and diamond resources, but rather on other minerals, such as PGMs, chrome, coal, manganese and lithium;
- On the issue regarding self – generation of energy for own use by mining companies, the Minister said that the DMRE has advised the regulator to accelerate the process of approving mining companies' applications in this regard;
- When asked about the inordinate time delays in the processing of prospecting and mining licences, the Minister answered that he was aware of the problem. As part of addressing the issue, in the last 2 years, they closed certain offices where there was a problem of this kind in order to tighten the management of those offices. He advised that the DMRE has invested money in an electronic application system which the Department hopes to get up and running before the end of the year. This will avoid the necessity to apply at a physical office and will accelerate the processing of applications; and
- In his closing remarks the Minister said that Government, the mining industry and communities should foster a culture of mediation in their resolution of disputes as opposed to litigation or arbitration.