NEWS & OPINION
However, it has not been smooth sailing as far as keeping Covid-19 under control in the mining industry is concerned. Recently, the Minerals Council South Africa has rebuffed claims that the mining industry has become the “epicentre” for the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. From a historical point of view, it should be no surprise that the mining industry is a lightning rod in the midst of a pandemic.
South Africa faces a scourge of illegal mining; being small-scale mining on otherwise ‘inactive’ mineral resources without legal authority. It both disrupts the legitimate mining industry and gives rise to ancillary criminal activity on a huge scale.
Malawi is a landlocked southeastern African country bordering Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia. It is endowed with varied minerals such as gemstones, coal, uranium and others. Despite its mineral wealth, however, Malawi has a relatively low dependency rate on the exploitation of mineral resources for economic advancement.
Endowed with abundant natural resources, Sub-Saharan Africa still lack behind in terms of economic development and access to electricity due to ineffective legal frameworks or poor governance structures.
On 1 May 2020, South Africa celebrated workers day. On the same day, the Labour Court heard an urgent application brought by one of the mining unions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, against the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. In this matter, AMCU calls for the detailed regulations and necessary measures to be put in place by mining companies to ensure that mineworkers are adequately protected from contracting the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in line with the objectives of the Mine Health and Safety Act 29 of 1996.
Of recent concern to most mining houses has largely been about means and ways of recovering the financial loss due to lockdown. This has led to most mining companies into having serious engagements around the restructuring of their financial outlook to match this ‘new normal’.
On 24 March 2020, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in the matter of Normandien Farms (Pty) Limited v South African Agency for Promotion of Petroleum Exploration and Exploitation SOC Limited and Others. The Normandien matter concerned the validity of the acceptance of an exploration right application by the Petroleum Agency of South Africa in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002.
This article investigates where the proceeds from petroleum revenue goes to in the specific context of Nigeria. Some parallels will also be drawn with other African countries. In doing so, the article contends that strict controls are necessary to ensure that such revenues are utilised to promote the economic growth and development, not only of Nigeria, but also of other resource-rich African countries. This is in an effort to combat the resource curse.
The story of mineworkers features countless concerns, akin to many workers in other industries. It is important then to see the actions of various stakeholders involved and how the number one concern expressed by the President’s address, ‘supporting the vulnerable’, has been put into action amidst covid-19.
Given recent developments, a pressing concern for many corporate companies in various sectors is whether they still have enforceable contractual rights to protect them during the covid-19 outbreak. The companies in the mining sector are not spared.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, and its inevitable impact on the mining industry, it is necessary to look to the past for lessons, so that the same mistakes can be avoided.
In February 2019, the Constitutional Court of South Africa handed down a precedent-setting judgement in Aquila Steel (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Mineral Resources and Others. The case concerned a dispute arising from overlapping prospecting and mining rights granted in respect of the manganese discovered on one piece of land to two separate entities by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (previously the Department of Mineral Resources) (DMRE).