A Case Study of Community Involvement in Developing the Minerals Policy in South Africa
The Mining and Minerals Sustainable Development (MMSD) project for the Southern African region identified various key issues for study to make input into the global report. Participation by stakeholders in policy development in the mining sector is significant. South Africa has developed its minerals and mining policy through a participatory approach. This report sets out the participation of community stakeholders in the policy and regulatory development as undertaken in South Africa.
The views of communities affected by mining were not reflected in the Green Paper, which outlined policy proposals for the Minister of Minerals and Energy to consider. The explanation for this is that the primary inputs handed to the Minister in October 1996 came from government, business and labour groups, which comprised the tripartite steering committee overseeing the process.
This shortcoming was addressed after the release of the Green Paper when the KWAGGA programme of the Minerals and Energy Policy Centre, with the collaboration of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy, undertook a countrywide exercise to obtain the points of view of communities affected by mining. This occurred within the window period of two months allowed for public comment on the Green Paper and two weeks on the Minerals Development Bill. After the release of the White Paper, ad hoc workshops were held over the country to clarify the policy direction and explain inconsistencies and conflicts caused by different policies having impact on mining.
Communities’ discussions and submissions concentrated on the issues that impacted on sustainable livelihoods of local communities. The following issues received overwhelming inputs: land and mineral rights ownership and prospecting rights, environmental management, downscaling, people’s issues, small scale and junior mining development. Overall all the discussions centred on the need and importance of local communities to be consulted during the lifespan of the mine, enjoy benefits of mining in their locality and participate in the mitigation of environmental impacts caused by mining development.
Black economic empowerment featured throughout the policy process. Provinces differed on the issue of ownership of mineral rights, with those provinces with previous access and potential to have the rights restored arguing for community ownership of mineral rights and other provinces favouring the state ownership of rights. It is believed by the latter group that state ownership will increase access by the previously excluded people. However, there was a general concern as to how the state was going to tackle the issue of compensation for present mineral rights holders and whether Department of Minerals and Energy had the capacity to do so, both financially and administratively.
Integrated development planning with the local government as the main role player was emphasised as a better way to ensure true sustainable livelihoods of the local communities and therefore of the country as a whole. This could be facilitated by adherence to the National Environmental Management Act and other related policy processes, which have better guidelines than the Minerals Development Bill on consultation and participation in developmental projects.