Business Maverick

PROGRESS REPORT

In a rare show of transparency, DMRE updates mining applications process on social media

In a rare show of transparency, DMRE updates mining applications process on social media
A dump truck transports excavated rock along an access road at the Mafube open-cast coal mine in Mpumalanga. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on Thursday updated the application process for mining rights of various stripes in the current financial year. It seems a lot of progress has been made since Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said in response to parliamentary questions in December that zero applications had been finalised.

In a posting Thursday on X, the DMRE updated the state of play of the applications it has received for the 2023/24 financial year. 

To wit, it shows that it has received 3,157 applications for mining rights, prospecting rights and mining permits. 

Of these applications, 576 have been rejected. This presumably includes the rejection of the environmental application – needed for a mining right – for a $2-billion iron ore mine in KZN submitted by India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, according to a Bloomberg report earlier this week

Curiously, it does not provide data on applications which have been approved.

It also gives a breakdown of the finalisation of mining rights and permit applications for previous years which presumably were finalised in this financial year.

Thirty-six mining rights applications from previous years have been approved so far this financial year, while 11 have been rejected. For prospecting rights from previous years, 283 were granted in 2023/24 and 453 were refused.

It’s a welcome step for the DMRE on the transparency front, though one has to wonder why no approvals submitted this financial year have been recorded. Perhaps it’s because none have been approved yet. 

An update on the overall size of the backlog would also be welcome. Mantashe last month put it at around 3,000, but the industry and other interested parties would appreciate specifics. 

Daily Maverick reported in January that, in response to parliamentary questions in December, Mantashe said 2,525 applications had been received up until that point in the current financial year, and that none had been finalised. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: EXCLUSIVE — Mantashe reigns as the minister of no new mining as DMRE lacks admin capacity 

This is a matter of public record which is beyond dispute. 

Subsequently, the DMRE and its officials changed their story, with Mantashe capping a week of shifting narratives and excuses by asserting on 702 Talk Radio that 674 of the 2,525 had been finalised.

Read more in Daily Maverick: DMRE muddle: Mantashe says cadastre announcement imminent, changes tune on applications mess

Now we have an assertion on X that says 576 applications have been rejected, but in fairness to the DMRE, applications also include cessations and amendments of rights and things like that. So the total may well be 674 – or perhaps more by now.

The bottom line is that it all underscores once again the urgent need for a functioning mining cadastre and applications system. These are finally on their way, with a preferred bidder selected.

But it will take at least a year to get up and running.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Loaded for Bear: SA’s mining cadastre will take at least a year to be operational

Meanwhile, updates like the latest post on X from the DMRE will be welcome – hopefully with some added details. DM

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