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Minerals and Petroleum

Any substance which occurs naturally on earth and was formed by, or as part of, a geological process is a ‘mineral’. ‘Petroleum’ is not considered a mineral, but is treated similarly by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002.1

Obviously, minerals and petroleum are non-renewable; and, as natural resources, they belong to the nation. But they also belong to future generations. So does the environment, which is harmed in the processes of mining, extraction, beneficiation2 and so forth.

Mining, prospecting, producing, exploration and beneficiation are all managed by the grant of rights and permits. In this way, the Act legislates the country’s commitment to these aspects, as well as balancing interests in accessing mineral and petroleum resources, and eradicating discriminatory practices in the applicable industries.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act falls under the authority of the Minister of Minerals and Resources.

Basically, it is a criminal offence to contravene or fail to comply with any provision in the Act;3 or any directive, order, notice, or any condition of a licence or permit4 This includes the following, all of which is prohibited.

A. Licences and permits

  1. Prospecting, mining, exploration, technical operations, reconnaissance, production and working without a specific permit.5

  2. Doing any of those activities without giving, at least, three weeks’ notice to the owner or occupier of the land in question.6
  3. Assigning, leasing, or otherwise disposing of a prospecting or mining right, or a petroleum exploration or production right, without written consent of the Minister.7

  4. Changing the controlling interest in a (non-listed) company which has a prospecting or mining right, or a petroleum exploration or production right, without the Minister’s written consent.8

  5. Assigning, leasing or otherwise disposing of, at all, a permit to conduct geological, geophysical and photogeological surveys (‘reconnaissance’).9

B. Operations

  1. Using the surface of any land likely to impede any object of the Act without the Minister’s approval.10

  2. Prospecting or mining on land in contravention of any condition set to promote the rights and interests of any community occupying the land.11

  3. To beneficiate outside of the Republic any mineral, or petroleum won or recovered inside the Republic, unless the Minister has been consulted.12

  4. Not complying with the terms and conditions of a prospecting, mining, production, or exploration right.13

  5. Failing to commence prospecting operations (within 120 days) once a permit has been granted, and not continuously conducting the operations thereafter.14

  6. Failing to commence mining operations within one year of the grant of the mining right.15

  7. Failing actively to conduct mining operations in accordance with the planned work programme.16

  8. Failing to commence petroleum exploration operations within 90 days of the grant of the right.17

  9. Failing to conduct exploration operations actively and continuously thereafter.18

C. Reporting and removing

  1. Submitting inaccurate, incorrect or misleading information in connection with any matter under the Act.19

  2. Failing to pay the required prospecting or exploration fees.20

  3. Not submitting progress reports.21

  4. Failing to pay to the State royalties in respect of any mineral removed and disposed of during prospecting operations.22

  5. Removing and disposing of minerals, whilst prospecting, in quantities greater than required for analysis and testing.23

  6. Removing and disposing of diamonds, whilst prospecting, without the Minister’s written permission.24

  7. Failing to keep proper records of reconnaissance or prospecting operations, or petroleum exploration or production.25

  8. Failing to comply with the requirements of a prescribed social and labour plan.26

  9. Failing to comply with the conditions of environmental authorisation such as relate to the pumping and treatment of extraneous water, environmental pollution, and ecological degradation.27

D. Mine closure

  1. It is an offence not to plan, manage and implement all prescribed procedures and requirements on mine closure.28

  2. When prospecting, mining, or petroleum exploration or production ceases (or when the permit to do so lapses, or is cancelled) it is an offence to demolish or remove any building structure, or a thing specifically identified by the Minister, or which is to be retained in terms of an agreement with the land owner or occupier.29

  1. As amended; the latest amendments are effected by Act 49 of 2008. 

  2. To beneficiate a mineral has different stages: (a) mining, extracting, crushing, smelting, etc. (primary stage); (b) conversion into an in-between product (secondary stage); (c) further conversion into a refined product suitable for purchase by minerals-based industries (tertiary stage); and (d) producing properly processed or manufactured value-added products or articles (final stage). 

  3. Section 98(a)(viii). 

  4. Section 98(a)(vi). 

  5. Section 5A(b). 

  6. Section 5A(c). 

  7. Section 11(1). 

  8. Section 11(1). 

  9. Section 14(5). 

  10. Section 53(1). 

  11. Section 17(4A) and 23(2A); section 98(a)(vi). 

  12. Section 26(3) read with section 98(c). 

  13. Section 25(2)(d), section 19(2)(d), section 86(2)(c), section 80(5). 

  14. Section 19(2)(b) and (c). 

  15. Section 25(2)(b). 

  16. Section 25(2)(c). 

  17. Section 82(2)(f). 

  18. Section 82(2)(b). 

  19. Section 98(b). 

  20. Section 19(2)(f) and section 82(2)(e). 

  21. Section 19(2)(h), section 21(1)(b), section 21(1A), section 35(2)(b), section 88(1) and section 88(1A). 

  22. Section 19(2)(g). 

  23. Section 20(1). 

  24. Section 20(2). 

  25. Section 28(1) read with section 98(a)(i), section 88(1). 

  26. Section 25(2)(f). 

  27. Section 5A. 

  28. Section 43(7). 

  29. Section 44.