By Claire Tucker Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is the nature and importance of the mining industry in your country?

South Africa is renowned for being a mineral treasure trove with an abundance of resources. It owns and produces a significant proportion of the world’s minerals: nearly 90 per cent of platinum metals, 80 per cent of manganese, 73 per cent of chrome, 45 per cent of vanadium and 41 per cent of gold are located in South Africa.

A substantial variety of other minerals are extracted, including iron ore, copper, nickel, diamonds, coal, building materials and other non-metallic minerals. South Africa’s wealth has been built on its vast resources and the mining industry is therefore crucial. South Africa’s valuable minerals are estimated to be worth close to 30 trillion South African rand.

The mining industry is also South Africa’s biggest employer, with over 510,000 employees and another 400,000 employed by suppliers of goods and services to the industry. South Africa’s mining industry is probably the world’s most highly developed. With a strong background as a major mining country, its strengths include high levels of technical and production expertise, as well as comprehensive research and development activities.

The country has some of the most highly developed primary processing facilities worldwide, covering the carbon steel, stainless steel, and aluminium industries, in addition to gold and platinum. It is also a world leader of new technologies. The industry suffers, however, from price fluctuations due to shifts in world demand for mining products and, presently, the absence of mineral beneficiation before export.

What are the target minerals?

Several minerals are mined in South Africa, including platinum metals, manganese, chrome, vanadium, gold, coal, diamonds, iron ore, copper, nickel, building materials and other non-metallic metals.

Which regions are most active?

Mining occurs throughout South Africa, particularly in the Mpumalanga Province, North West Province, KwaZulu Natal Province, Limpopo Province and Northern Province.

Is the legal system civil or common law-based?

Mineral resource exploitation in South Africa is regulated by both statute and common law. The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (the MPRDA) is the primary regulatory framework legislation. The MPRDA specifically directs that where there is a conflict between the MPRDA and common law, the MPRDA will prevail. However, the MPRDA does not nullify the common law. Accordingly, the common law principles must be considered in interpreting the MPRDA where there is no conflict between the MPRDA and common law. The principles must especially be considered where the MPRDA does not contain provisions on mineral resource issues.

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