Allegations of corruption, the double-granting of licences and the backlogs in the issuing of licences are just some other issues faced at the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).
Minister Gwede Mantashe highlighted the issues during a media briefing held on Sunday on the draft Mining Charter, which was published on Friday.
“I have established an investigative team. We have identified the provinces of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West as our priority focus. In these provinces, our clients have indicated they experience the most challenges in terms of the issues outlined earlier,” said Mantashe.
The issues raised came to the fore during the department’s public consultation in preparation for the charter.
The DMR undertook eight weeks of intensive engagements with stakeholders. During this time, the department visited several mining communities and organisations across the country.
According to Mantashe, an incident of corruption at the Mpumalanga office was reported to the department.
“It appears that Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act was abused, wherein an official allegedly issued notices and demanded financial compensation in return for their lifting.
“The official in question is suspended, pending the conclusion of the investigation. Where there is evidence of a crime being committed, the matter will be referred to the law enforcement agencies for action,” said Mantashe.
The investigation team appointed is expected to submit its report to the ministry in the next few days.
“Once the team has completed its work in Mpumalanga, it will proceed to Limpopo and then the North West province,” said Mantashe.
Regarding Limpopo, the DMR has suspended the administrative operations of that office as an urgent intervention.
“We took this decision after an incident in which staff were threatened, and a bullet was sent to the Regional Manager inside an envelope.
“We are, therefore, advising all our clients that all administrative related matters will be handled from the head office in Pretoria. In the interim, the investigation continues,” said the Minister.
Health and safety
In a bid to address mining accidents that occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater operations since the beginning of this year, the department says a report by the Acting Chief Inspector of Mines is in the pipeline.
“This will enable us to take appropriate action, guided by the Mine Health and Safety Act, as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction. To date, Sibanye-Stillwater operations is responsible for 20 of the 45 fatalities reported since the beginning of the year.
“It, therefore, cannot be business as usual in how the Regulator attends to this situation. There will be an update once the report is completed,” said Mantashe.