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July 08, 2018

South Africa mines minister delays finalization of draft mining charter

South Africa mines minister delays finalization of draft mining charter
FILE PHOTO: ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe gestures during a media briefing at Luthuli house, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's mines minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday he will extend by a month a period for public comment on a mining industry charter which lays out requirements for black ownership levels and other targets.

Uncertainty around the charter has deterred investment into a sector that accounts for 8 percent of gross domestic product in the world's top platinum producer.

Mantashe said he will extend the period for public comment until the end of August.

"It gives people a chance to engage more and comment more," Mantashe said during his closing speech at an industry summit to discuss the charter.

A draft of the charter published last month extends to five years from one year the time that existing mining permit holders will have to raise black ownership levels to 30 percent from 26 percent.

It also proposes a requirement that 10 percent (a third of the 30 percent black ownership target) for new mining right applicants be granted free to communities and qualifying employees, dubbed "free carry", which industry body The Minerals Council South Africa has opposed.

The charter, published for public comment before entering into law, is part of South African affirmative action rules aimed at reversing decades of exclusion under apartheid.

The government and miners had been at loggerheads over a previous version of the charter, which the Chamber of Mines industry body, now the Minerals Council, criticized as confusing and a threat to South Africa's image with investors.

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