Africa Mining: “SA mining rights application process open to corruption” – Corruption Watch

SA Richards Bay Coal terminal

Nonprofit organization Corruption Watch says it has identified vulnerabilities in the mining rights application process that gives rise to corruption between mining companies, government authorities and community leaders.

A new report ‘Mining for Sustainable Development’, which was released in Johannesburg, on Wednesday, raises important issues that arise at the beginning of the decision-making chain when governments award mining rights, contracts, permits and licenses, Corruption Watch researcher Amanda Shivamba said.

“[The report] constitutes an assessment of current practices and identifies the gaps that allow for the current levels of corruption and maladministration. By focusing on the four types of applications, namely mining permits, mining rights, prospecting rights and environmental authorizations, Corruption Watch aims to raise public awareness and encourage good practice in the mining industry,” she added.

The report was compiled as part of a research initiative driven by Transparency International, and supported by Corruption Watch, to strengthen transparency and accountability in the early stages of mining operations.

One of the vulnerabilities identified in the report is the lack of use and unreliable accessibility of the online portal administered by the South African Mineral Resource Administration System (Samrad), which results in the manual lodging of applications.

The failure of the Department of Mineral Resources to address the system inadequacies lends itself to a perpetuation of corruption, the report states.

“The timeframes provided by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) are not adhered to, resulting in long delays, which [also] plays to the hands of corrupt individuals,” Shivamba said.

The report further highlights that the MPRDA falls short in the limited scope for consultations with communities, noting that there are no systems in place to ensure that meaningful consultations are held.

As a result, these often end up as tickbox exercises between mining companies and traditional leaders, who may profit at the expense of local communities, that should benefit from such arrangements.

Another challenge for local mining communities is that Section 10 notices, as prescribed by the MPRDA, are written in English only, which means that community members are not given a chance to grasp matters in their home languages.

“The introduction of social and labour plans (SLPs) into the regulatory framework was intended as a corrective measure to address deep disparity in the distribution of wealth among mineworkers and communities on the one hand and mining management on the other.”

The report notes that the lack of proper monitoring of SLPs by government means that mining companies are not held accountable for their inaction or failure to invest in mining communities.

The report also makes mention of manipulation of certain broad-based black economic empowerment partnerships and legislation, where specified black economic empowerment vehicles are favoured and licences are not granted if these vehicles are not appointed.

The report recommends that action needs to be taken to overcome the internal capacity constraints to cut down on delays in processing applications and reduce existing backlogs.

It also says there is a need to implement and streamline Samrad as an online cadastre system, which will ensure transparency of information and reduce the possibility of corruption.

Consultations with communities need to be fair, meaningful, inclusive and transparent, the report adds. (source: Miningweekly)

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