MPRDA Amendment Bill will cost thousands of mining jobs - James Lorimer

DA MP says there are nine major problems with proposed changes to Act

The New Mining Bill: Fatal for jobs

Note to editors: The following statement was distributed at a press conference hosted at Parliament today by DA Parliamentary Leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, and DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources, James Lorimer MP, presenting the DA's position on the new Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) Amendment Bill. The accompanying document can be downloaded here.

15 August 2013

Tomorrow, South Africa will mourn the tragic loss of 44 lives in Marikana a year ago. South Africa must stand in solidarity and say "Never Again".

It is important to take stock of what has been done since then to improve conditions on our mines, and to ensure that the senseless loss of lives does not happen again.

Instead of rejuvenating our mining industry, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill before us today, will destroy it.

Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost as investment dries up - creating the conditions for another Marikana.

There are major problems with the Bill: 

1. The Bill will increase the power of a dysfunctional department to intervene arbitrarily in the affairs of mining companies. This will result in less regulatory certainty and make South Africa less attractive to investors.

2. It is being based on a false premise of mining prosperity under the current version of the MPRDA. Since 2004, the mining industry has shrunk by 1% per annum between 2001 and 2008 and employs some 300 000 fewer people than in 1994.

3. Not enough legislative certainty and too much discretion for the Minister of Mineral Resources and her officials. The new Bill contains 34 instances, a 30% increase from the current legislation's 26 instances.

4. The failure to heed advice. The 2013 version of the MPRDA Bill remained almost entirely unchanged from the 2012 draft, despite the Department of Mineral Resources receiving 80 submissions on the Bill.

5. The allocation of rights may be opened to corruption and patronage, due to the Minister's increased unregulated discretionary powers.

6.     Government will be able to forbid exports and set prices. By designating certain minerals as ‘strategic minerals' government will also be allowed to control to who this mineral may be sold and at what price, a disincentive to mines which will lead to further disinvestment, production shortages and inevitably job losses.

7. Grouping the oil and gas industry under the same law as mining will be a disincentive to oil and gas exploration, killing the new energy industry.

8. Shutting down the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA), not devolving regulatory and promotional functions to an independent agency with high credibility, goes against international best practices and will further hurt oil and gas investment.

9. Remaining confusion over responsibilities of the Minister of Mineral Resources and the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs increases uncertainty and will lead to further disinvestment.

The DA cannot support the Bill in its current form as it will result in job losses and inevitably hurt millions of unemployed people. We need to ensure that the new MPRDA Amendment Bill is aligned with, what should be South Africa's number one objective: job creation.

The DA will implement the following actions in Parliament in its fight against the new job-killing Mining Bill. The DA will:

  • Call for the MPRDA Bill in its current form to be abandoned.
  • Vote against the MPRDA Bill in its current form and will only reconsider if all the fatal flaws are adequately addressed to encourage investment and improve job creation.
  • Propose that the discretionary influence of the Minister and her officials be reduced and replaced with legislative certainty.
  • Request that all 80 submissions received on the Bill be tabled before the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources.
  • Propose that the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) are not shut down to ensure credibility and independence of regulatory and promotional functions.
  • We are re-iterating our call for the establishment of an Ad-Hoc Committee that will deal decisively with South Africa's mining crisis. This ad hoc committee must comprise members from the labour, police, trade and industry, minerals, health, and rural development portfolios.

The DA will not stand back while yet another job-killing bill is introduced in Parliament. We will take up this fight on behalf of the tens of thousands who could lose their job in the South African mining industry as a result of this Bill, and in memory of those who have already lost their lives at Marikana.

We cannot afford another Marikana. We need legislation that creates jobs for mineworkers and gets our mining industry back on its feet.

Statement issued by James Lorimer MP, DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources, August 15 2013

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