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Government departments (finally) issue request for bids for Mining Licensing System

Government departments (finally) issue request for bids for Mining Licensing System
Unsplash | Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The DMRE and Sita will virtually host a compulsory briefing session with prospective bidders on Friday, 31 March.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), in collaboration with the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), has issued “a Request for Bids in respect to the design, implementation, maintenance, and support of the Mining Licensing System”. This means that a huge deterrent to investment in South Africa’s mining sector, especially on the exploration front, will hopefully be rectified.  

The DMRE and Sita made the announcement in a media statement issued on Saturday, and at the weekend the tender was published on the website.

Indeed, after several wasted years, the DMRE now seems to be in a hurry. The DMRE and Sita will host a virtual compulsory briefing session with prospective bidders on Friday, 31 March. 

And the headline of the statement calls for the development of a “bespoke” mining licensing system — so one that will be made to order. 

“The new Mining Licensing System, which will be customised to South Africa’s needs, is expected to enhance efficiency and transparency in the application, granting, and management of prospecting and mining rights or permits. 

“Through this system, the department seeks to improve the accuracy and accessibility of all relevant information by all stakeholders. The system must further empower the DMRE to accelerate the processing of applications within a reasonable timeframe,” the DMRE said. 

“The procurement of the Mining Licensing System is a key milestone for South Africa’s mining industry, particularly as the government implements the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan.” 

As we have reported many times before, the DMRE’s Samrad system for lodging mining rights applications is widely regarded as dysfunctional. The backlog for such applications reached more than 5,000 at one point a couple of years ago, but the DMRE says this has been significantly reduced. 

What the industry has long called for is a proper mining cadastre like the ones used by neighbouring Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. Even Zimbabwe has one coming soon. This is an online portal that gives the public easy access to the state of play of mining and exploration permits in a jurisdiction. It also allows companies to apply for various kinds of mining or exploration rights and permits.  

In short, it shines the light of transparency on the sector and makes it easier for investors to invest in it.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Botswana’s mining cadastre reveals hydrocarbon scramble in iconic Kalahari game reserve

The lack of one is seen as a key reason South Africa’s share of global exploration spending remains below 1%, well below the 5% target within three to five years that DMRE Minister Gwede Mantashe publicly set in 2019.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mantashe’s missed mining target — SA still accounts for less than 1% of global exploration spend

It could take a year or more to get a functional mine licensing system and cadastre up and running. But the ball is at least rolling now. DM/BM

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the tender was not available online at the weekend.

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  • William Kelly says:

    Don’t hold your breath. For the light to be shone on who has been allocated what rights to what where you first need to make sure that the roaches have run for cover. Who will take a bet against me that juicy rights have already been allocated to connected comradely colleagues and that is why Gweezy is being so insistent on a Custom Comradefriendly Cadastre that no doubt will need to be opaque when the Dept deems deeds don’t deserve detailed descriptions….

  • Francois Smith says:

    Mantashe probably needed an engineer to do the tender documents. Since the two engineers he knows are spying for him at Eskom, it took a bit of time.

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