MPRDA Bill returned to National House of Leaders

Some sort of movement on MPRDA at last……..

sent to clients 18 March…..In a parliamentary document recently published it is shown that the Mineral and Petroleumcoal mining Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill has been sent on a token trip through the National House of Traditional Leaders for comment in thirty days and then to be returned to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources.

This is probably for some temporary major changes to be made to the Bill after debate until such time as two new Bills, one for the mining industry and one for the oil and gas industry, are drafted in time to come.     No doubt this movement was initiated as the result of the recent meeting between President Zuma and business leaders.

The extraordinary affair of the MPRDA has been going on since the first draft of the Bill was published for comment in December 2012 regulating extensively the exploitation of minerals and resources and the legal movement and transfer of resource rights.    Both industries have their own and very different BEE charters and the single Bill deals with both and many empowerment factors.

Core issues


Two issues
of note were that in the new Bill as originally proposed the Minister was to form a new “entity” which will “promote onshore and offshore exploration for and production of petroleum” and which will also “receive, store, maintain, interpret, add value to, evaluate, disseminate or deal in all geological or geophysical information” relating to petroleum and gas exploration matters.

Secondly, sections 80 and 84 of the anchor Act were to be amended to provide for State participation in any successful minerals and gas/oil development exercises carried out by the private sector, the Bill providing for a State right to free carried interest in all such exploration and production rights.
Specific details regarding the extent of the “free carry” were to be published in a government gazette, a figure of 20%susan shabangu being bandied about at the time.   “We are on the path of changing the mining and petroleum industry in South Africa, whether you like it or not,” said Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu earlier in 2014.

Strong views

Accompanied by a public outcry and strongly worded objections from private industry, foreign companies and other institutions, the Bill reached Parliament virtually unchanged.    Again, brought up before the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources in public hearings, were strong objections from Opposition MPs and institutionalised industry, neither of whom minced their words, describing the Bill, in one case, as a “self-destruction tool of South Africa’s investment climate.”

Nevertheless, the ANC Alliance continued on their course and the Bill was hammered through in a rush at the end of the parliamentary term, the ANC summonsing through its whip sufficient numbers.

In the background, as the Bill went through Parliament, was the fact that the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Energy were only just completing their split apart. Crossed wires were the order of the day.

Nothing happened

Since that date the Bill has sat in limbo; a new Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi Ngoako Ramatlhodiagreeing shortly after with the with mining companies and the Chamber of Mines that the best and fastest way forward to bring certainty to the mining and oil drilling industry would be to pass the Bill subject to amendments based on a new approach to the mining beneficiation issue.

Secondly, the matter of state “free carry” could be dropped.

At the time it was guessed that at least a year and a half would be the delay if two replacement Bills were to be drafted, separating mineral resources from oil and gas in the light of the fact that both have separate and very different BEE charters. The quicker alternative to bring some certainty was that temporary amendments to the existing Bill should be made.

Despite this, the Bill has just stuck right there, in the President’s office, until recently, now moving back togas exploration sea Parliament because, as is suspected, business leaders in their recent discussions with President Zuma must have drawn his attention to the continuing lack of lack of certainty in both industries because of unknown legislative changes about to occur and an apparent inability by Cabinet to give clear policy leads.

So where are we?

So as far as the MPRDA Bill is concerned, there is movement in the goods sidings but whether any train is about to start on a journey can only be known when a meeting is scheduled by the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources. Yet another minister is the train driver.

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