Briefing by Department on Legislation and Policy Implementation

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Mineral Resources and Energy

10 February 1999
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MINERALS AND ENERGY AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 February, 1999
BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT ON LEGISLATION AND POLICY IMPLEMENTATION

The Chairperson, Dr Nkosi, welcomed everybody to the meeting. The committee's agenda for the final session of Parliament was adopted by the Portfolio Committee, before the Chairperson handed over to the Department.

Adv. Nogxina, the Director General of Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, thanked the committee for their help in getting two policy documents through in 1998. Many of the implementation strategies still needed to be developed. The Mining and Minerals policy plan had begun to emerge, and would be presented today. The Energy policy implementation plan was still being worked on.

Dr. Bridell, the Deputy Director General in charge of Mineral Development, briefed the committee on the action plan for minerals and mining. In implementing the Mineral regulation policy, the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs had identified a few key plans.

The first was the drafting of a comprehensive Mineral Development Bill, which would be based on the white paper. The second plan would be the drafting of a draft Bill which would abolish the Lebowa Minerals Trust, incorporating the responsibilities of the trust into the department, and placing the mineral rights held by the trust in the Departments name.

The third plan required the conclusion of new arrangements with Soekor for the promotion of oil and gas exploration. The Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs was hoping to have a unit inside the Central Energy Fund which would undertake the promotion of the oil and gas industry. The fourth plan required the improved turnaround for prospecting and mining applications. The aim was to have application turnover to take 4 months.

The fifth plan for mineral regulation involved the realignment of environmental procedures with requirements of the National Environmental Management Act.

On the Mineral Promotion side the department has 4 plans to implement its policy. The first was to compile a report for the Minister on evidence submitted to the Commission of Inquiry into South Africa diamond industry. The second plan involved the conclusion of the Alexkor management contract to one of the three shortlisted bidders, and to implement a performance monitoring agreement. Thirdly, the department was to implement the National small –scale mining development framework. As a core part of this implementation was the creation of a rolling fund which would be made available to the associated institutions, such as Mineral Technology Research (Mintek), to aid in initiating and supporting small scale mining.

The final plan on the mineral promotion side was to complete a data-base design for a National Mining Promotion system.

Mr Bakker, from the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, took over the briefing and informed the committee on the activities and plans of the Mine Health and Safety directorate. The guiding Act has been in place for two years. The key objectives of the Directorate were a reduction of at least 30% in fatal injuries, an improvement of at least 25% in the reportable accident rate, to establish and implement a system to monitor a sustained improvement in health conditions, to improve the education opportunities for members of the workforce, and to ensure that those striving to improve their formal qualifications have been given the opportunity to do so by 2000.

Mr. Bakker went on to outline the key strategic issues the department had undertaken. Some of those he mentioned included the further implementation of the Mine Health and Safety Act, the drafting of sub-ordinate legislation and regulation, the restructuring of the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate, and further education and training for new inspectors of mines.

The Chairperson invited members of the Portfolio Committee to ask questions. A question was raised as to the status of Municipal and traditional mineral rights in view of the white paper policy to transfer rights to the state. The Director General replied that the transformation of mineral rights would be done in a constitutional manner, and would be guided by the implementation plan which was being drawn up.

In reply to a question on the timing of the release of the report on the Diamond inquiry, Dr Bridell noted that a task team still had to be appointed to go through the commissions documentation. The task team would assess how long they would require to come up with a report.

In response to a query as to how long it would take for legislation that would implement the minerals white paper, Dr Bridell noted that the envisaged new draft bill would be a comprehensive piece of legislation. The Draft Bill would need to make sure that all issues pertaining to Minerals and mining in South Africa were taken into account. No time period was given.

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