Department of Mineral Resources 2013/14 Budget & Strategic Plan briefing

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Mineral Resources and Energy

24 April 2013
Chairperson: Ms F Bikani, ANC
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) presented its Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan to the Committee. At the outset, it was noted that mining in South Africa had generated huge economic benefits and still played an important role in affirming the country’s position in the global market. The total budget for the 2013/14 financial year was R 1.394 billion, representing an average growth of 10.8% between 2009/10 and 2012/13, and there were projections that it would continue to grow, on average, by 11.7% over the future years. The Department accounted for 54.9% of the allocation and entities under the control of the Minister accounted for 45.1%.  The level of under spending was maintained at below 5% for the 2012/13 financial year. An analysis was given of the expenditure estimates, by programme and economic classification. Administration costs would rise on average by 4.1% in line with inflation. The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate budget was expected to increase from R150.6 million in 2012/13 to R179.8 million in 2015/16. Mineral Regulation was expected to increase from R187.8 million in 2012/13 to R249.1 million in 2015/16, because of extra funding for the National Environmental Management Amendment Act implementation, and the South African Mineral Resources Administration System upgrade of R59 million. Mineral Policy and Promotion also expected to increase from R579.9 million in 2012/13 to R900.5 million in 2015/16, because of new allocations for rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless mines and economic support for a competitiveness package for the Council for Geoscience and Council for Mineral Technology.

The Department then examined the objectives and targets of each programme in greater detail, outlining the strategic objectives and specific initiatives. It was apparent that there was quite a strong focus on job creation, which was to be done by increasing the number of jobs attained from new mining rights, through the settlement of applications for new mining rights. The sector also intended to promote sustainable resource use and management, reduce state environmental liability and financial risk, and transformation policies and legislation also be implemented. Sustainable resources use and management would be another major focus area. The Department was also looking to facilitate  transformation initiatives, especially with regard to women, youth and people with disabilities, to strengthen internal processes such as inspection, monitoring and evaluation, and lastly to facilitate learning and growth through exit interviews and the extension of mentorship and internship programmes for new graduates. It recognised the need for skills upgrades, perhaps arranging for more internal training as it had found it difficult to attract and retain staff against competition from the mining companies.

Members raised various concerns about the practicality of some of the targets set by the Department, one of which was filling vacancies within four months. They questioned the allocation of a budget item of R800 million to the Council for Geoscience, asking if the work was not being duplicated elsewhere. They also raised critical concerns on rehabilitation of ownerless and derelict mines and environmental concerns of drainage of ingress water associated with it. Illegal mining and criminal syndicates’ involvement in this activity also raised significant concerns. The shortage of skills within the minerals sector to steer initiatives such as inspecting mines was particularly noted. Many of the explorations within the country were undertaken by foreign companies who were subsidised by the government. The Department and Committee outlined some possible ways of enhancing skills, alongside the mining companies, including employing interns. Members criticized the government-wide difficulties in attracting and retaining skills. They questioned the numbers of cases before the courts, asked what they involved, and asked for updates when possible.

Meeting report

Appointment of Acting Chairperson
The Committee Secretary tabled the apologies of Committee Chairperson Mr F Gona, and Ms F Bikani (ANC) was chosen as Acting Chairperson. She noted the apologies.

Members discussed the change of the meeting time, to accommodate transport and guest arrivals, to 09:30.

Department of Mineral resources Strategic and Annual Performance Plan 2013/14
Dr Thibedi Ramontja, Director General, Department of Mineral Resources, tendered the apologies of some staff from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR or the Department) who had been unable to attend. He thanked the Committee for enabling the Department to play its role in contributing towards the economy of South Africa. He said the mining sector had generated huge economic benefits and still played an important role in affirming the country’s position in the global market. The mining and mineral resources sector generated R370 billion, employed 500 000 people, and had a multiplier effect on the economy. Significant deliverables for the industry were provided for in the amendments to the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment (MPRDA) Bill (the Bill), which was yet to be presented to Parliament, as well as in Mine Health and Safety legislation. These were critical in resolving some of the challenges currently faced by the industry.

Dr Ramontja said the Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) was in line with its Strategic Plan. The presentation would be divided to cover the various branches within the Department. He noted that he was confident that the various stakeholders would be making useful input on the MPRPA Bill, and it would progress as planned. It was important that peace and stability prevailed for mining activities to succeed and proceed smoothly.

Dr Ramontja added that there was several important rehabilitation projects planned in the country.  He also noted that the capacity of the Department would be enhanced so it could deliver services that were compliant with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and it would be creating one regulatory process for environmental management over mining.

Dr Ramontja outlined how his presentation would be given. He noted that the total budget for the Department was R 1.394 billion for the 2013/14 financial year. This represented an average growth of 10.8% between the 2009/10 and 2012/13 financial years, and it was projected to grow by 11.7% on average over the medium term. The funding was shared between the departmental programmes and entities under the control of the Ministry, which respectively accounted for 54.9% and 45.1%. The level of under spending was maintained, to be far below 5% for the 2012/13 financial year.

The overall expenditure was expected to increase, in real terms, from R 1.394 billion in 2013/14 to R1.619 billion in 2015/16, giving the average rate of 11.7% per annum. The increase was credited to additional funding received over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), in respect of the following items:

-R102.2 million for improved conditions of service for the Department and Public Entities
-R18 million for economic support and competitiveness packages, for the Council for Geosciences and Council for Mineral Technology
-R 81 million for waste scrap reprocessing and sensor based sorting projects
-R160 million for the rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless mines
-R 59 million for the implementation of the National Environmental Management Act, and the upgrading of the South African Mineral Resources Administration System

The expenditure estimates for Programme 1: Administration were expected to increase from R 257.3 million in 2012/13 at an average rate of 4.1% over the MTEF. The increase was credited to inflationary adjustments. Programme 2: Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate, was expected to increase from R150.6 million in 2012/13 to R179.8 million in 2015/16. Programme 3: Mineral Regulation was expected to increase from R187.8 million in 2012/13 to R249.1 million in 2015/16. The increase was credited to the additional funding received for the NEMA implementation and the South African Mineral Resources Administration System SAMRAD upgrade of R59 million. Programme 4: Mineral Policy and Promotion was expected to increase from R579.9 million in 2012/13 to R900.5 million in 2015/16. The increase was due to the new allocation for the rehabilitation of derelict and ownerless mines, to economic support, and to the competitiveness package for the Council for Geosciences and Council for Mineral Technology.

He set out the resource plan by economic classification. The compensation of employees’ budget had increased in line with inflation. The increase in the goods and services budget for the 2013/14 financial year was credited to new funding for Rehabilitation of Ownerless and Derelict Mines, implementation of NEMA and upgrades on SAMRAD. The transfers and subsidies budget had also increased by 20%, owing to new funding being obtained for waste scrap processing and sensor based sorting projects (MINTEK) and economic support and competitiveness packages for DMR entities.

Ms Cathy Leso, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DMR, presented the strategic objectives for the branch, under the headings of stakeholder perspective, internal processes, learning and growth and the financial statements.

Stakeholder perspectives
The Department intended to provide reliable and timely information by submitting reports within the prescribed timeframes of National Treasury’s reporting calendar. Service delivery would be improved by assessing the number of defined turnaround times to which the Department adhered, according to the customer satisfaction index. An annual survey would be conducted to do this assessment. Stakeholders would be educated and empowered by assessing the percentage of complaints reduced. The percentage of non-conformity with internal processes was also to be reduced. Workshops would be conducted to make sure that stakeholders were aware of internal policy processes. The Department also intended to make sure that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems were provided to improve the service capacity of the Department. The outcome was a reduction in the number of calls logged due to system response time. Transformation policies would also be promoted by making sure that invoices to suppliers were paid within 30 days.

Internal processes
The Department intended to improve the number of implemented policies and to implement the approved processes and procedures in time. Turnaround times would also be improved and ICT would be aligned to the business objectives through the Master System Plan (MSP) strategy. In terms of learning and growth, DMR intended to concentrate on management and leadership development, to fill funded vacancies and to attract, develop and retain skills.

Financial matters
DMR intended to produce a clean audit. This was be done by maximising the utilisation of resources through a tighter management policy. In addition, the Department intended to align its budget to the strategy and manage costs effectively through the reduction of irregular expenditure, promoting corporate governance through the full implementation of both internal and external audits, and adhering to the compliance framework.

Mr J Lorimer (DA) asked what processes were in effect to rehabilitate derelict mines. He asked how far the Department had gone in rehabilitation and whether the Department was aware of the problem of open shaft mines, and if so, how it dealt with reporting occurrences of such mines.

The Chairperson asked what capacity was developed to deal with the derelict mines.

Dr Ramontja said that because of limitation in budget allocations, priority was given to rehabilitating mines considered dangerous to the community. He said that human resource capacity was a function of funding if funds were available then the Department could direct more funds towards training and skills development.

Mr Lorimer asked how the DMR justified the allocation of R80 million to the Council on Geoscience, and whether it was allocated for an entire skills set, or whether the DMR had merely picked the  items arbitrarily.

Mr S Huang (ANC) also questioned this allocation.

Dr Ramontja confirmed that the financial support for Council for Geoscience was critical to motivate and enable the Council’s competitiveness. He said he expected the Council to present its report on activities carried out, and budget. The Department did not conduct research itself, but funded the Council for Geoscience adequately so that it could carry out research. He added that a key factor of the Council for Geoscience's statutory commitment was research, and usage, storage and dissemination of the mineral deposit information.

The Acting Chairperson asked how the Department worked together with the Council for Geoscience to ensure there was no duplication of roles or functions in research. She also asked if there was any documented support of such interactions.

Dr Ramontja responded that there were several and regular meetings held between the Council and the Department. To this end there was also a service level agreement on what the deliverables to the DMR were.

Mr Huang asked whether the budgeted amount was sufficient for filling the existing vacancies, or if it was a general human resource problem which the Department could not fund.

Dr Ramontja said filling of vacancies was a challenge; it was increasingly difficult to attract mining and chemical engineers with suitable experience to join the Department. He said in spite of advertising the response was lacking, and the Department was seeking ways of aggressively recruiting, training and employing retention measures of young engineers in partnership with mining companies.

Mr Huang requested what efforts were being made to promote and market South African platinum in the same way that Swiss chocolates were promoted. He asked if there was a budget for this promotion.

He observed that the promotion of platinum was still an area that the Department could improve on and that there were there were many ways which this could accomplish. He said the Department was open to any suggestions which could lead to better marketing.

Mr M Sonto (ANC) asked how the Department intended to empower stakeholders generally and what type of education its was referring to when it spoke of the “stakeholder perspective”.

Dr Ramontja said that the presenter was referring to internal stakeholders within the Department, to ensure they could function well within the Branch. It was one of the DMR’s internal goals to ensure in-house stakeholder engagement was addressed.

Mr Sonto asked how the Department would retain and develop skills and, what difference it would make in so doing. He further asked if there were any particular labour challenges the Department faced such as losing skilled labour to other better paying entities.

The Acting Chairperson noted that the Committee and the Department had been discussing SAMRAD since 2010. She asked how far the upgrade process was, and whether the IT system associated with it was operating efficiently.

The Acting Chairperson noted that one of the key issues and challenges within the Department was the establishment of the online application for mining licenses. She said there were still frustrations experienced by users with this process, and asked what measures the Department had taken to correct it.

Dr Ramontja acknowledged the challenges faced when lodging documents for applications for licenses. He said that after SAMRAD launched the online application system, to deal with the applications for prospecting rights, mining permits and mining rights, loss of documents and associated delays had been completely eliminated and the process had become more efficient and transparent. From April 2011, all applications rights had to be submitted in electronic format on the Department’s website, and the Department had added more hardware to cope with the increasing online applications. He added that the Department was also in the process of implementing supporting infrastructure. The Department would procure an additional server to ensure the system could cope with the increased information, but this was linked to the budget.

Dr Ramontja also acknowledged that processing of small business applications had been a concern because of miners in far flung areas of the country where access to credible IT systems was difficult. To this end the Department enabled small businesses to get access to computers at the regional offices to ensure they were able to work at the same level as big miners. Capacity building and workshops were also run to help such miners.

Mr Lorimer asked what efforts were being made by DMR on rehabilitation and drainage of mines in Gauteng.

Mr David Msiza, Deputy Director General, Chief Inspector of Mines, DMR, responded that the challenges were in the field of engineering for water drainage. There was research being undertaken and technology to purify water from mines. He added that an Inter ministerial meeting made some recommendations and DMR was taking step to put into operation the reduction of ingress of water into the underground workings as far as was possible. This would reduce the volumes of water which needed to be pumped and treated to more acceptable levels and consequently reduce the operational costs of overall management.

Mr Lorimer enquired about the current position on guarantees given on current mining licenses, after mining operations. He asked what was the percentage of applications where the statutory obligations were met, and how many were still outstanding.

The Department asked for a chance to compile these figures in writing and forward them to the Committee.

Mr Lorimer asked what the research budget was for platinum development.

The Chairperson asked what community linked projects existed in relation to rehabilitation of mines.

The Departmental representative said it was continuing work with local communities to rehabilitate derelict and ownerless mines. It had reached agreements with Mintek and certain communities on how to implement these projects, which included the Heuningvlei project whose extent had been finalised. On the basis of this experience, forthcoming activities were expected to be concluded before the expiry of the current three year cycle.

The Acting Chairperson asked for an explanation of the role of DMR and National Treasury in relation to royalties and the expenditure.

Mr Ramontja said that revenue taxes and royalties from mining companies went into the National Treasury and this was administered by the National Treasury as part of the general revenue and expenditure budget.

Mr Lorimer noted that the Department’s APP mentioned a number of cases before courts. He asked what the cases were about and whether there were any that would constitute “a defining moment” for the Department. 

Dr Ramontja responded that the cases were associated with matters incidental to the Departments’ activities. It was quite usual for people and companies to have grievances against the Department, which meant that a number of cases would be instituted. He said he could not speak to the cases at the time.

The Acting Chairperson said when cases came before a court of law, those particular cases were considered to be sub judice and could not be debated or published until the legal proceedings were settled. She asked the Department to find time to discuss the outcome of cases and progress made, at another session with the Committee.

Programme 1 Administration – Corporate Services
Ms Nthatisi Likhete, Chief Director: Corporate Services, DMR, said that the purpose of the Corporate Services branch was to provide strategic support and management services to the Ministry and the Department. The first objective was to contribute to skills development through various initiatives such as career awareness and the acquisition of bursaries for learners from poor backgrounds. This would be done through various internship and internship programmes. The second objective was to facilitate the sustainable development of vulnerable groups through the implementation of various projects for women, the youth and the disabled. The Department also intended to communicate its policies and programmes by implementing its communication strategy, facilitating media and stakeholder engagements through various public participation programmes. Lastly, the Department intended to facilitate transformation initiatives through the promotion of women’s projects in mining.

Ms Likhete said that the Department had various internal process objectives, which included the development and implementation of policies and procedures within corporate services, and giving  timeous responses to opinions, appeals and litigation, the implementation of a national vetting strategy for the screening of employees and contractors, and the facilitation of compliance with the Human Resource litigation through declarations of financial and performance agreements. 

The last focus area of corporate services was that of learning and growth. The objectives included the facilitation of management and leadership development through various management development programmes, and the filling of funded and vacant positions within four months. In addition, there were objectives around the attracting, development and retention of skills within the Department, which would be done through the improvement of employment equity, the reduction in staff turnover and the development of various human resource intervention and training programmes.

Ms N Ngele (ANC) said remarks were made to the effect that vacancies had to be filled and women facilitated in mining projects. She asked which vacancies were being referred to, how many these and what kinds of projects were being referred to.

Dr Ramontja responded that the main challenge for the Department was filling the 57 positions, which remained vacant, despite advertising. He reiterated that the Department was working with the Minister through the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) to increase the number of qualified engineers and other skilled labour for the market. Other challenges were that there was a critical shortage of skills, which had caused a high turnover of current skills, and a disproportionate increase in salaries. When compounded by high levels of unemployment and inflated expectations of employment on the mines, this added pressure on the sector. He said a strategy was being developed to deal with the challenge of supporting women in mining. The Department had funding for vacant positions. Most of the vacancies were in the mine and safety sector and here the difficulties were the need for matching the experience to the existing skill set.

The Acting Chairperson said that the issue of filling of vacancies had been discussed previously and it was becoming a frustrating and recurrent theme.

Ms Ngele said that the problem of divergence in salary was unbelievable, as salaries for skilled people kept on rising, while the pool from which to source those skills was declining. She asked how long the Department would allow this to prevail and what was being done to this end.

Ms Mathibela commented on the need for skilled labour for inspectorate staff. She said another problem was that the skilled labour to fill such vacancies was ageing, and the new graduates did not have the requisite skills or practical experience. She asked whether a trend similar to that used in the medical profession could not be used, where, similar to doctors, young engineers should be taken for a period of internship under the mentorship of retired engineers until they were ready, with a good practical and theoretical knowledge.

Dr Ramontja responded that the vacancy rate was 12%, and this was comparatively high because the Department was seeking to retain the right skills, in the mining, chemical and mechanical engineering area. Most of these skills were absorbed by large mining companies. He suggested that the Department needed to work on developing its own staff to fill these vacancies.

The Acting Chairperson agreed with Ms Mathibela’s point and said that one innovative way to deal with HR challenges was through internships. This could be done, in partnership even with mining companies, by requiring both, as equal partners, to develop skills and other transformational issues. In this way, real needs would be identified and addressed for the benefit of all concerned. The objective should be inclusive engagement aimed at creating a pool of local skills that could be depended on to remain in the area of their origin, thus reducing labour turnover.

Mr Huang asked what was being done to promote education of women at the workplace with regard to sexual harassment. He said miners needed to be educated so that incidents of sexual harassment would be reduced.

The Department’s representative welcomed the observation on sexual harassment and noted that there were challenges in dealing with women miners, considering that most miners were men.

Mr Lorimer asked about the timelines for delivery of information on scheduled public consultations, when were consultations expected. He also asked if there would be a road show first, then public consultations.

The Department’s representative noted that currently a Task Team was working on the regulations and that it needed time to make its final report. There had been consultations with stakeholders to this effect. There was a format and programme scheduled to engage with communities to this end.

The Acting Chairperson noted that the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga areas were favourably affected by mining projects. She observed that it was desirable to have training institutions of higher learning in those areas, and wanted to know if the Department was doing anything to promote this, with institutions being set up there specifically for mining or general education.

The Department representative reported that the Minister of Higher Education and Training appointed two task teams to investigate the feasibility and possible models for the establishment of universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had engaged stakeholders in the provinces, including other social partners and relevant institutions such as the Mining Qualification Authority (MQA), and took into account provincial and national needs that included the strengths and peculiarity of those areas, such as mining and agriculture. DMR did not engage with DHET directly, but recommendations were made on the type and size of the two new institutions, to ensure plans for future training needs of the industry.

The Acting Chairperson asked about the vetting.

The Chairperson asked how many interns were accepted and how many had taken up the positions.

Ms N Mathibela (ANC) asked what steps were being taken to ensure that more interns were employed, and asked how many were currently involved with the Department.

Ms Likhete said the number of interns was about 46 and they were being trained in technical areas in partnership with mining companies.

Programme 2- Mine Health and Safety
Mr David Msiza, Deputy Director- General: Mine Health and Safety, DMR, outlined the programme’s strategic objectives as follows;

-To promote health and safety
-To contribute to skills development
-To develop and review internal processes
-To improve turnaround times

The first strategic objective of the programme was to transform the minerals sector. This would be done by promoting health and safety through the reduction of occupational fatalities, injuries and dangerous occurrences. The target in this regard was to achieve 20% improvement per annum. Other targets included a 10% per annum reduction in over-exposure to the Silica occupational exposure limit, a 10% per annum reduction in over-exposure to Noise Occupational Exposure, and an 80% completion of investigations and inquiries per annum.

The Department had conducted 396 audits and 8 000 inspections to monitor the effectiveness of the systems.

The sector also intended to provide for sufficient and relevant skills in the mining sector by contributing to skills development, through the review and implementation of certificates of competency models to improve pass rates.  The Mining Qualification Authority and other stakeholders would also be engaged, to ensure the proper accreditation of service providers. Lastly, the sector intended to achieve a 100% implementation and adherence to Service Level Agreements, through the capacity building of mine inspectors.

Ms Ngele thanked the Department for the presentation, but felt that the report received lacked detail and seemed even to be aimed at deliberately deceiving the Committee. She reminded the Department that it was agreed previously that such scanty reports would no longer be made, she urged the Department to clarify the representation of the statistics.

The Director General responded with an apology and said that in future the obligations the Department had towards the Committee would be fulfilled, and such mistakes would not be repeated.

Mr Msiza clarified that the representation of the statistics presented was reflected in the annual report, and that the targets were reviewed on a quarterly basis.

A Member congratulated the Department on the unqualified report, and she asked for clarification on the HIV AIDS policy.

Mr Msiza noted that Department ran HIV AIDS programmes in support of National Development Plan (NDP) objectives. The Department also used audit tools as part of its health surveillance at mining sites, to ensure that HIV AIDS targets were met, as part of monitoring and evaluation. He acknowledged that the Department also played an important role in complying with standards for reducing the incidence of TB, silicosis; noise induced hearing loss, and other diseases.

The Acting Chairperson observed that issues common to women in mining, especially those working in the actual mine sites, which including issues of abuse and occupational hazards, should be addressed.

With reference to comments made earlier she too expressed dissatisfaction with the answers and response given. She urged the Department to clarify their performance targets against other measures such comparison with particular years and in relation to specific issues.

Programme 3 Presentation on Mineral Regulation
Mr Joel Raphela, Deputy Director General: Mineral Regulation, DMR, outlined the strategic objectives of this programme as including:

-Promoting job creation
-Promoting sustainable resource use and management
-Reducing state environmental liability and financial risk
-Implementing transformation policies and legislation
-Monitoring and enforcing compliance
-Improving turnaround times

Mr Raphela said that the sector intended to achieve equitable and sustainable benefits from mineral resources. The first objective was to promote job creation. This could be done by increasing the number of jobs attained from new mining rights, through the adjudication of applications for new mining rights. Social and Labour Plans (SLPs) and Environmental Management Programmes (EMPs) being given priority. Also, SMME projects for sustainable development could be developed through increased compliance inspections, and Local Economic Development projects also be improved in the same manner.

The sector also intended to promote sustainable resource use and management, reduce state environmental liability and financial risk, and implement transformation policies and legislation. The programmes also intended to achieve a 100% compliance with regulatory requirements through monitoring and the enforcement of compliance. Turnaround times should also be improved through the emphasis on adherence to prescribed time frames, such as the granting and issuing of rights, the registration of rights and recording of mining permits.

Mr Sonto asked about the development of compliance and enforcement measures in the mining sector and the number of consultations, and how the figure was arrived with respect of implementation for transformation policies.

Mr Lorimer reiterated the importance of stating turnaround times and asked what percentages of applications, both in terms of prospecting rights and issuing of statutory notices in terms non-compliance on environmental matters, were not compliant. He asked if any notices for non-compliance had been issued over the last year.

The Departmental representative said the mining or prospecting rights holders were required to comply with environmental laws generally, including the MPRDA conditions as set out in the 2002 Act, the conditions of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) or Environmental Management Programme (EMPR), and any other authorisations granted to the rights holders. To this end, the Department had stepped up its enforcement on health and safety issues, as well as on prospecting rights conditions, following the recent rights audit. The Department’s enforcement measures would apply to right holders who were non compliant and those who frustrated and wilfully failed to implement their social and labour plans, mining works programmes and the Environmental Management Plans.

Ms Mathibela asked about the scourge of illegal mining and reminded Members what the Mining Charter said on eradication of mining. She asked for an update on the current situation.

Mr Raphela responded that illegal mining was a great challenge as the Department, along with other government agencies such as the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agents were struggling to contain illegal mining. There was uncertainty over legislation because many miners came from neighbouring countries. Rising unemployment had led to syndicates of mining gangs which had become a menace for law enforcements agencies. The illegal miners possibly belonged to an organised criminal syndicate. In response to this the government had established an Inter-Ministerial Security Cluster body to support the newly formed Hawks, as a special investigations unit focused on combating illicit mining.

Mr Lorimer said that, in addition to Roodepoort, there were still incidents of illegal mining in East Rand on Randfontein Road.

Mr Lorimer also sought further clarity on turnaround time on applications percentages.

Mr Raphela asked for more time to answer his questions and promised to deliver an answer by Monday.

Mr Sonto asked how often DMR was threatened and whether the threats from large companies affected its ability to work objectively.

Dr Ramontja responded that although the Department members were working under exceptionally challenging circumstances, they endeavoured to deliver services to the public objectively, without fear or favour. He acknowledged that there were circumstances where there were threats, and where companies attempted to pull their weight but DMR staff were fully aware of the responsibility they had towards the public.

Programme 4: Presentation on Mineral Policy and Promotion
Mr Mosa Mabuza, Deputy Director-General: Mineral Policy and Promotion, DMR, outlined the branch’s strategic objectives as follows;

-Promoting investment in the mineral sector
-Promoting sustainable resources use and management
-Facilitating transformation in the mining sector
-Developing and reviewing internal processes
-Improving turnaround times

Mr Mabuza stated that, in dealing with stakeholder perspectives, the branch made use of targeted publications, technical and strategic partnerships, and also supported small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). Small Scale Mining Workshops were also held in an attempt to engage all relevant stakeholders. A beneficiation strategy was also developed for the completion of the integrated implementation plan. With regard to the facilitation of transformation in the minerals sector the branch established a Monitoring Committee for augmentation of regulations for the exploration of shale gas. This was done in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs. A minimum target of 95% was set for the improvement of turnaround times.

The Chairperson noted that most of the questions would be around the Mining Charter and MPRD Amendment Bill. She asked how far the process was so far.

Mr Mabuza responded that the Bill went to Cabinet and was returned for consultations. The Department was compiling the input of stakeholders so that the document could go back to Cabinet for final consent and endorsement.

The Chairperson noted that the Department had promised to have a workshop with the Committee to specifically consider the latest MPRDA Amendment Bill. The date for such a workshop was discussed and agreed as 19 June 2013 but the venue was to be confirmed.

Ms Mathibela asked why water was diverted when it left old mines and whether it would contaminate ground water.

The Director-General said water ingress was old water which had accumulated in the mines and had to be pumped out. The challenges were in the field of engineering for water drainage. There was research being undertaken and technology to purify water from mines. He added that an Inter ministerial meeting made some recommendations and DMR was taking step to put into operation the reduction of ingress of water into the underground workings as far as was possible. This would reduce the volumes of water which needed to be pumped and treated to more acceptable levels and consequently reduce the operational costs of overall management.

Mr Lorimer asked when the regulations to the MPRD Amendment Bill would be tabled. He enquired what impact the regulations would have on the industry, and whether the public would have to wait for long for the regulations to be promulgated.

Mr Raphela said the Department would prepare a comprehensive explanatory Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill, to accompany the MPRDA Amendment Bill. It was not practicable to have concluded the regulations at the same time the Bill is enacted. The MPRDA would be a suitable framework law to enable stakeholders to respond to the Bill. The Department Policy impact study was guided by the National Treasury’s strategy. A task unit had started evaluating this step. He also said that the Department would cautious in working too much to try to perfect the Bill at this stage, at the expense of progressing further with it, but made the point that balancing the need for excellence, and making progress would be achieved.

Mr Lorimer asked what progress had been made with respect to the policies on shale gas and what impact it would have. If so, he wanted to know who would reassess the policy

Mr Raphela confirmed that the issue of fracking in the Karoo had been in the spotlight for a long time. The Department, including a taskforce of government agencies, was studying best practice on fracking, and had completed a draft proposal policy to advise the government on how best to deal with the environmental and social issues associated with fracking. The policy would be discussed by the public and other stakeholders through consultation processes.

The Chairperson asked what happened to the Aurora mineworkers in the North West plant.

The Chairperson asked how the Department communicated its policies and plans to the public, and what structures of engagement existed for stakeholder engagement.

Mr Raphela responded that the Department conducted industry workshops regularly and that when consulted it was ready to engage the public on any relevant matters. He said that the Department could do with better public relations, because it seemed to focus more on resolving problems and disappointments, and less on success stories. He said there was a need to highlight the successes, rather than the failures, to encourage and motivate the public’s good perception of the Department.

Members responded to the Acting Chairperson’s request and proposed, seconded and adopted the 2013/14 budget and strategic plan.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Department for its guidance and for always making time to appear before the Committee, despite a demanding work schedule. She reiterated Members’ positive feelings about the hard work being done at the Department.

The meeting was adjourned.

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