The Committee was briefed by the Department of Minerals and Energy on the amendments that had been made to the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill. These amendments had been made by the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy. The Department highlighted the changes to various clauses, indicating that the majority of them were changes that were now attempting to bring the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act in line with the environmental implications of the National Environmental Management Act.
Members queried the briefing, noting that they had received both the B and D versions of the Bill and noting also that the programme had described this as an “initial” briefing. The Department reminded them that in 2007 there had been a briefing on the Bill, and the Select Committee had instructed the Department to go and consult with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. The changes to the Bill were made pursuant to those consultations. Members then asked that they be separately briefed on the comparison between the two versions, and it was agreed that this would be arranged.
Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (the Bill): Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) briefing on amendments by Portfolio Committee
Ms Lindiwe Mekwe, Acting Chief Director, Minerals and Mining Policy: DME, gave a presentation on the amendments that had been made by the Portfolio Committee.
She said that the revised version of the Bill went through several phases that ultimately culminated in the National Assembly adopting the Bill on 26 June 2008, but that amendments had to be made as there had been several technical errors and ambiguities in certain definitions. There had also been a need to define certain concepts in much broader terms and to align the Bill with environmental principles in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) of 1998.
She then specified the amendments made as follows:
Ms Mekwe noted that the Long Title contained new policy directives that compelled the Minister of Minerals and Energy (MME) to assume responsibility for the implementation of environmental issues that were in line with the NEMA. Certain existing old order rights had now been afforded statutory protection as well.
Ms Mekwe said that new definitions had been added to Clause 1. These definitions were in respect of beneficiation, Council for Geo-science, environmental authorisation and effective date.
The definition of community and Mining Titles Office had been substituted. “Community” would now be replaced with a reference to historically disadvantaged individuals.
Clauses 16, 22, 27,74,76,79, and 83
These Clause pertained to the amended order of processing and application for a prospecting right, mining right, mining permit, reconnaissance permit and exploration right, whilst there was an appeal pending in respect of the same mineral and land.
These clauses had been amended to specify the different authority figures that could grant access to mineral rights and the conditions attached to the application process. Clause 16 stated that an applicant should simultaneously apply for both prospecting rights and environmental authorisation, whilst clause 79 stated that a designated agency would now have to accept the receipt of application for exploration rights within 14 days, rather then the initial 10 days.
Clause 17 and 23
In Clause 17 and 23 new insertions had been made that specified that the Minister may impose such conditions as were necessary to promote the rights and interests of the community, and that allowed for the participation of the community.
Clauses 19,21,30 and 43
Ms Mekwe noted that the amendments made to the above clauses dealt with the Council for Geo-science being empowered to be a custodian of all progress reports and date of prospecting operations gathered by the holder of a prospecting right.
Clauses 16,18,19,22,23,24,25,32,35,38,39,40,41,42,43,46,47,71,74,79,80,84,93,102 and 106
The amendments that had been made to the above clauses were to align the Bill with environmental principles in terms of the NEMA.
The amendment made to Clause 40 would enable the Regional Mining Development and Environmental Committee to make recommendations to the Minister on environmental issues.
Clauses 5, 11, 17, 19, 23, 25, 35, 78, 80, 82, 84 and 86
Ms Mekwe noted that the amendments that had been made to the above clauses harmonised the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) with the Mining Titles Registration Act, 1967(Act16 of 1967) as amended, and compelled holders of rights granted in terms of the MPRDA to register their rights.
Clause 59 (20) (i)
The amendment made to this clause provided for the representation of at least one person from a designated agency on the Minerals and Petroleum Board (MPB).
The other amendments that had been effected were the change in the composition of the MPB from the minimum of 14 members to 17 members and from the maximum of 18 to the maximum of 20 members.
Schedule II: Transitional
Schedule II had been amended to rectify certain omissions of existing old order rights, such as mynpachten, tributing agreements, old order mining rights, OP26 mining lease and to rectify certain technical errors in the MPRDA.
Item 7 of Schedule
Three new insertions had been included in Item 7. These new insertions were 3(A), which stated that if an applicant did not comply with the requirements of sub-item (2) and (3), the Regional Manager must in writing, request the applicant to comply within 60 days of such request whereas 3B stated that if the applicant did not comply with 3A, the Minister should refuse to convert the right and notify the applicant in writing of the decision within 30 days with reasons. The third insertion, 3C, stated that if the application related to land occupied by the community, the Minister may impose such conditions as were necessary to promote the rights and interests of the community, and that included conditions that made it possible for community participation.
Item 9 of Schedule
In Item 9 “Mining Titles Office” had been replaced with “Mineral and Petroleum Registration Office” and the time period to register had been extended from “one” to “six” years.
Item 12 of Schedule
Subitem (4) had been substituted by two new sub-clauses (a) and (b). These substitutions related to claims made for compensation in terms of the processes that had to be followed and not only according to the provisions of the Prescription Act of 1969.
Ms Mekwe informed the Select Committee that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy had also made suggestions in his capacity as Chairperson, and that she wished to present the suggestions.
Mr J Sibiya (ANC,
Mr D Gamede (ANC, KZN) said that it was also a procedural matter as the suggestion came from the Chairperson and not the whole Committee.
Ms M Themba (ANC,
Ms Ntombi Mnyikiso, Senior State Law Adviser: Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, replied that the B10D version was the correct version covered by the briefing.
Mr Sibiya said that this was unacceptable, as the Select Committee could not blindly agree to amendments that had been made by the Portfolio Committee, and it appeared that the Select Committee was now dealing with the Bill in its third revised state.
Ms Futhi Zikalala, Deputy Director: General, Mining Policy and Promotion, DME, replied that the Bill first went through its normal processes of consultation before it could be tabled before this Committee.
Mr W Douglas (ACDP,
Ms Themba noted that that this was also the Select Committee on Economics and Foreign Affairs and not Finance, as indicated on the front of the presentation.
Ms Mekwe replied that the DME did brief the Select Committee on the original version of this Bill in 2007. The Select Committee had at that stage asked the Department to consult with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) on the environmental implications of the Bill.
Ms Themba said that in that case it should have made clear to the Members that the Department had previously briefed the Committee, and this could be seen as a continuation of the former briefing.
Mr Sibiya said that the programme stated that this was an “Initial Briefing” and that according to him, this meant the first briefing on the Bill.
Ms Themba proposed that the Select Committee should thus go through both versions, B10B and B10D of the Bill so that a background to the Bill and the changes effected by the Portfolio Committee could be formed.
Ms Mnyikiso said that the DME had intended to guide the SC through the Bill and to clarify certain areas of uncertainty.
Ms B Dithebe (ID,
Ms Mnyikiso said that the DME was prepared to go through both versions, B10B and B10D of the Bill to clarify matters.
The members agreed to this.
The meeting was adjourned.
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