Pretoria – Mineral and Resources Minister Susan Shabangu today announced the lifting of the moratorium on new mining rights applications.
The minister imposed the moratorium at the beginning of September last year to allow the department to conduct a full audit of all mining and prospecting licences granted since 2004.
The moratorium for the Mpumalanga region has been extended to 30 September 2011.
Addressing the media this morning, Shabangu explained that the moratorium was to help in streamlining administrative processes.
“The moratorium and audits were not targeted at any particular catergory of the mining industry,” she said.
“As a ministry, we did not go out on a limb in a bid to target black economic empowerment entities, we aimed our arrows at all the rights holders.”
During the period of the moratorium, the department conducted inspections in all the mining sites.
A total of 3 266 inspections were conducted, as opposed to the 3 507 that the department initially aimed for.
A total number of 713 statutory notices have been issued to non-compliant rights holders.
“These rights holders are being given an opportunity to rectify cases of non-compliance,” Shabangu said.
With the lifting of the moratorium, new applications will now be lodged online. This, according to Shabangu, will reduce incidences of fraud and corruption.
About 460 new applications were lodged today after the moratorium was lifted.
Shabangu explained that the online application system will reject incomplete or non-compliant applications and that there will be fewer people to process the applications.
According to the department, the new system would ensure accountability, efficiency, transparency and address overlaps on properties applied for, among other things.
With regard to new mining applications, Shabangu said the first come first served principle will apply to the allocation of new rights.
“The bidding system that is provided for in the [Mining Rights] Act will be put in place, which will be applicable to all rights that are granted, issued, expired, revoked and abandon,” Shabangu said. – Edwin Tshivhidzo, BuaNews