Tag Archive | mining charter

Parliament may see delays on Mining Bill

Mining and petroleum bill to hit snags

Overwhelmingly evident is the cloud hanging over the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRDA), linked inextricably to a troubled Mining Charter, some movement on the MPRDA being necessary to restore stability to the mining industry in the form of legislative clarity.

Legislative clarity will also allow the petroleum and gas industry to hopefully go into a development phase.  Here the players need an equal playing field, the State in this case getting a free stake possibly at 20% but paying no development costs since the State now has ownership of the resources.

Free lunches

There is one further possible hurdle on the horizon.      Aside from issues surrounding the Charter, which is technically a non-parliamentary issue, the application of Parliamentary Rules regarding the great number of changes that are being made to the Bill raise procedural issues.

It is indeed a very different Bill to that which was voted through Parliament earlier and passed by the National Assembly.

For the moment, now that provincial opinion on the more recent changes to the MPRDA have been returned,  the provinces each having voted and recorded their nine mandates on the subject, the idea is that the Bill can then finally be returned to the Presidency, possibly via the NA Committee to lodge the changes.

First things first

There is a sense emerging that the offshore gas industry is a little happier with the free carry proposals but on the other side of negotiations it appears, from the media, that the Chamber of Mines is struggling to find common ground with Minister Zwane on the Mining Charter, referred to in the MPRDA but not legislatively part of it.

It is difficult to imagine any Mining and Petroleum Resources Development Act, as amended, being in force without an agreed and new Mining Charter in place. However,  developments in this area will have to be watched.

Last in queue

In the list of Bills before Parliament the MPRDA has been listed last (and therefore the longest under debate) for nearly three years, except for a short period when it went to the President.   This reflects the long tussle involved.

The four major hindrances were the extended negotiations with the offshore petroleum industry on the free carry issue; the fact that President Zuma returned the Bill approved unsigned insisting that it be considered by all nine provinces; issues surrounding what the Minister has defined as “strategic minerals”; the thorny question of mineral beneficiation and the completion of the mining charter, to which the MPRDA refers but remains not incorporated.

Next process

Many more issues have still to be debated, whilst the basic parameters will have to come to a head on the parliamentary “rules of the game” regarding the passage of the legislation itself.    Meanwhile, NCOP hearings on the Bill have been scheduled for the last two weeks of June 2017.

Throughout, the “elephant in the room” for the mining industry has remained the Charter itself which Minister Zwane has stated will be “the most revolutionary Charter ever produced.”

Possible slow down

Meanwhile on the MPRDA, Opposition members will no doubt study closely the Rules of Parliament which state, as was the case with the FICA Bill, that if a Bill is returned unsigned then only the issues for which the Bill was returned may be altered and then only once.

However, unlike the FICA Bill which was returned on the basis of one issue, that of unwarranted searches the MPRDA Bill was returned on the basis of lack of consultation with the provinces.

To amplify, if the President only returned the Bill on the basis that the NCOP and National House of Traditional Leaders had not been consulted, it may be a contested issue as to whether the Bill will be challenged under these Rules. This is a legal issue.

The Legal Resources Centre is quoted as being interested in such a challenge.

Looking ahead

For years, it has been the view of many that both industries that each should have its own “MPRDA”, especially in the light of the fact that both have their own specific and very different Charters.

Whilst crude oil, subsequently refined to petroleum and gas, are certainly natural resources now owned by the State, theoretically the only resources that are ‘mineral’ are those which have a crystalline molecular structure and are “mined”.     This would naturally exclude extracted crude oil and gas.

Two is not one

Consequently, both industries, which fall under two government departments and which are distinctively different from one another, have historically been under one piece of legislation governing all geological resources.

This difference between the two industries is expressed in many ways.   The petroleum industry is centred around its refineries, very much technical industries with ‘upstream’ components in importation and exploration and ‘downstream’ interests  involving distribution, retailing and property interests. Their product is very directly linked to the cost of doing business and the cost of living.

Meanwhile, the mining industry is essentially involved in extraction with massive labour factors, high capital costs, sophisticated export involvements and beneficiation.  Its product is closely linked to the survival of industry in general and is directly linked to GDP.

Legislatively, therefore, one garment certainly does not fit all  –  despite each industry having its own charter.  Inevitably separate legislation will have to be developed but such changes are seen as being down down the road for the moment.

Damaging delays 

Whatever route the Bill now takes in Parliament, any challenge to its progress will be particularly frustrating for investors if there are more delays.    Those issues mainly arise in the mining sector where far more is at stake and consequently rating agencies are flagging Minister Zwane’s actions.  The gas exploration industry is clearly tired of waiting.

The results of three days of parliamentary hearings on the Bill, which have included some side issues such as Shell SA on the future of shale gas and any demands from the House of Traditional Leaders, should prove interesting.

The major issue remains as to what is government policy is on the whole particularly regarding labour  as distinct from just Cabinet ambitions for BEE participation percentages.

Next stages

Most attention will now fall upon the complementary non-legislative document, the Mining Charter, despite the unclear parliamentary situation.   Following the public hearings, the NCOP Select Committee will summate these meetings and the relevant departments will respond over the following days.

Possibly, at some stage, Minister Zwane will address Parliament on the issue to clarify the situation of government’s view and relevant comment on the Bill will also no doubt arise from media briefings by the Ministry on both subjects. For the moment, much of the issue will be dictated by events outside of Parliament.

Previous articles on category subject
MPRDA Bill returned to National House of Leaders – ParlyReportSA
MPRDA Bill to be amended urgently – ParlyReportSA
MPRDA Bill brings changes in BEE and exploration rights – ParlyReportSA
Mineral and Petroleum Resources Bill halted perhaps – ParlyReportSA

Posted in BEE, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Labour, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Parliament and the investment climate

Seven issues spooking investment…….

editorial……Nothing, absolutely nothing, will stop growth more effectively than to be constantly changing the investment national assemblyclimate by altering the playing field levels; criminalising business for non-compliance of local laws which have nothing to do with business; and bringing about the kind of atmosphere of uncertainty in which investors are constantly attempting to establish current government policy and the reasons for any changes.

Not to understand the reasons is sometimes worse than disagreeing with them. At least if one dislikes an idea one can usually work around the issue. As long as you know its constant its good for investment.

What we know

At parliamentary portfolio committee level, the issue of transformation has been accepted by all as necessary. All are agreed that apartheid was a terrible thing. Most realize that taxes will, without doubt go up, such as carbon tax and probably VAT, as will the cost of living. Most are agreed that service delivery in respect of the ideals of the NDP, especially at local level, is pretty poor.

Also, most agree that just before any kind of election, parliamentarians say some pretty odd things and make totally impractical promises in order to get votes. Look at the USA. However, in rating agency terms of where we stand in South Africa most of these issues have been “discounted”, to use their term.

What we need to know

stone sizaniHowever, in Parliament, cabinet statements, budget vote speeches and government departmental briefings are important to study in terms of trying to establish some measure of understanding as to where government is headed. The aim is always to establish certainty, not give views.

With certainty in the offing, capital investment can be planned for and growth expected. A clearer picture of government policy is always necessary for the greenhouse of ideas in planned expansion and development; whether the plans are worth the risk to exploit and, furthermore, to create an environment where the international message goes out…… this is the place to invest.

What we don’t knowgreen question mark

So what is troubling investors?    Aside from the nonsense going on at the SABC, here’s a few ideas and we are sure there are more….

Seven good reasons for a start:

1. What is the real plan of execution behind the Expropriation Bill? Definitions ranging from “the basis of land reform”; queries on the definition on “the public interest”; and a determination, it appears, not to study the constitutional aspects; all these queries and worries contribute to uncertainty.

2. Imagine what happened to planning departments in the mining industry during the last eight months with Minister Zwane’s surprise contributions to BEE shareholder arrangements and also by stating he was turning charters into law, presumably as part of MPRDA legislation. Uncertainty reigned.

3. It’s not good to hear that the BEE pointing system is to change yet again under the Preferential Procurement Act in major sectors that contribute to growth. One understands that President Zuma warned of this in SONA but how many more changes are to come but how many more times will DTI refine their idealogical BEE process?

4. When are intellectual property uncertainties to end? Where is the new legislation? Planning for the internationals in the pharmaceutical industry can hardly be easy.

5. New climate change fuel specifications are upon us and the Minister of Energy is totally uncertain on this issue, as she is with gas exploration, shale gas, a state refinery and the energy mix generally. Many potential investors have given up the waiting around and have gone, whether the oil price drop was to blame or not.

6. Minimum wage legislation will eventually arrive as far as the human resources environment is concerned but labour law as a whole is in flux with new drafts still with NEDLAC. South Africa is now rated one of the worst countries for an uncertain labour climate.

7. The national health insurance scheme coming from the likes of Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is foggy, unsettling to the financial world and confusing to medical health providers. Issuing White Papers is fine but turning these into legislation requires a finely tuned plan and policy directive. One never knows what the good doctor is to say next.

Cabinet cohesion

A lot of the problems come either from Ministers with little interest in the investment climate and who are probably not up the demands of their portfolio, or who appear to have “hobby horses” of their own. In addition, the friction between National Treasury and the Cabinet, so evident in Parliament, is adding fuel to the fire in terms of financial uncertainty.

A good orchestra always needs a good conductor with the ability of bringing people together accompanied by legislative certainty providing the musical score. South Africa badly needs a leader who can do this.

In parliamentary terms, most will be more relaxed when the current local elections are over; Parliament can restart and pressure then applied again to get clarity on exactly what investors can and should expect.

Previous articles on category subject
Parliament, ConCourt and Business – ParlyReportSA
Minister Brown wants utility shareholder management – ParlyReportSA
Editorial: Working committees – ParlyReportSA

Posted in earlier editorials, LinkedIn0 Comments

Uncertainty in oil and gas exploration industry

Oil and gas industry criticizes MPRDA Bill…

Government’s definition of what an  oil and gas industry stakeholder is and the continuous use of that mysterious word “player” have both come in for some serious investigation after the recent hearings into the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, which aims to grab a stake in oil and gas exploration industry and combine the BEE charters of both the mining and liquid fuels industry with regard to employment and beneficiation.

The minister now announced that the state will be able, it will be pr0posed, to acquire at first 20% in successful gas exploration ventures  without capital outlay (called “free carry”) and subsequently 50%.

In the case of this Bill tabled in Parliament, after public comment, participation with industry stakeholders, such consultation with stakeholders has been claimed by the minister involved both in print in the written background to the Bill as part of the tabled document and by the departmental of mineral resources in  briefings to the portfolio committee concerned.

Generally, liquid fuels companies are concerned at the suggestion that if both BEE charters are combined it is like “combining water and oil”, to quote one member, since the mining industry is more labour intensive with massive capital outlay and the liquid fuels industry is twice as capital intensive but with less manual labour involved but greatly higher risk issues in capital outlay.

According to a number of oil and gas industry exploration companies vitally affected by the proposals contained in the Bill, any discussions with the gas exploration industry  has neither happened nor were they even notified.

State participation

Considering the fact that the Bill proposes acquisition by legislation of shareholding in those companies and regulations, as yet unpublished, will vitally affect not only their balance sheet but whether they enter into ventures in the first place, makes this is extraordinary.

One imagines that not only are eyebrows raised in the international world of trading and investment but some unfortunate comparisons made to other failed states in Africa.

Certainly there is a fear of exploitation in Africa and not without undue reason. Also it was hoped that one set of reasonable rules, known well ahead, would bring the kind of certainty that was needed to key worldwide industries and this would bring in turn South Africa to the top of list in investment destinations in an otherwise very unstable and avaricious stable of governments to our North.

Lack of certainty

From what has been said during the hearings on the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, the minister would seem to be way off mark with this new Bill, some of those making submissions saying it was the first time they got their voices heard and others stating that some of the conditions are outrageous.

Whilst the terminology “hearings” is used for such sessions after a Bill is tabled, we just hope that the minister is listening.

Posted in Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments


This website is Archival

If you want your publications as they come from Parliament please contact ParlyReportSA directly. All information on this site is posted two weeks after client alert reports sent out.

Upcoming Articles

  1. MPRDA : Shale gas developers not satisfied
  2. Environmental Bill changes EIAs
  3. Parliament thrashes out debt relief Bill
  4. Border Mangement Bill grinds through Parliament
  5. BUSA, farmers, COSATU give no support to sugar tax

Earlier Editorials

Earlier Stories

  • Anti Corruption Unit overwhelmed

    Focus on top down elements of patronage  ….editorial….As Parliament went into short recess, the Anti-Corruption Unit, the combined team made up of SARS, Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and Justice Department, divulged […]

  • PIC comes under pressure to disclose

    Unlisted investments of PIC queried…. When asked for information on how the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) had invested its funds, Dr  Daniel Matjila, Chief Executive Officer, told parliamentarians that the most […]

  • International Arbitration Bill to replace BITs

    Arbitration Bill gets SA in line with UNCTRAL ….. The tabling of the International Arbitration Bill in Parliament will see ‘normalisation’ on a number of issues regarding arbitration between foreign companies […]

  • Parliament rattled by Sizani departure

    Closed ranks on Sizani resignation….. As South Africa struggles with the backlash of having had three finance ministers rotated in four days and news echoes around the parliamentary precinct that […]

  • Protected Disclosures Bill: employer to be involved

    New Protected Disclosures Bill ups protection…. sent to clients 21 January……The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs will shortly be debating the recently tabled Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill which proposes a duty […]